Former Whitewater prosecutor Ken Starr to leave Pepperdine


The Malibu Times Staff

Just after five years of serving as dean of Pepperdine University School of Law in Malibu, Kenneth W. Starr is leaving to serve as Baylor University’s 14th president, effective June 1, both universities announced Monday.

The controversial Starr, formerly the Whitewater independent counsel who received national attention during the Clinton impeachment process, came to Malibu in August of 2004.

Pepperdine University President Andrew Benton said Starr’s hiring five and a half years ago was one of the “most important academic appointments” in the history of the university.

Benton, in a press release Monday from the university, thanked Starr for his service to the law school and university and congratulated him on his appointment.

“Ken has had a tremendous impact on our students, the law school, and the Pepperdine community at large,” Benton said. “His leadership, his love of scholarship and his devotion to our students helped raise the national stature of our school and we will benefit from the good he accomplished here for many years to come.”  

Benton said a national search for the dean’s replacement would begin soon. 

For Starr, who was born in Vernon, Texas, becoming president of Baylor University, located in Waco, returns the former United States Solicitor General to his native state.

Starr was Solicitor General of the United States from 1989 to 1993. From 1983 to 1989, he was a United States Circuit Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. He was counselor to U.S. Attorney General William French Smith from 1981 to 1983. Early in his career, he clerked for Judge David W. Dyer on the U.S. Court of Appeals and for U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren E. Burger. He has taught as an adjunct professor at New York University Law School, as a distinguished visiting professor at George Mason University Law School and he has lectured at Pepperdine University prior to his appoint in 2004.

Starr was offered a similar position to deanship at Pepperdine in 1997, when the Whitewater investigation was stalled. However, he opted to stay at his post in Washington. According to, “After word leaked he planned to resign from the Whitewater probe effective August 1, 1997, to accept a position as dean of Pepperdine University’s law school, Starr reversed himself in the face of intense criticism. Even defenders questioned his judgment and he admitted his error.”

After Whitewater, Starr was involved with the Linda Tripp revelation of President Clinton’s adulterous relationship with 24-year-old White House intern Monica Lewinsky, which led to the impeachment trial.