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Johnson Named Permanent Rector and Vice President for Saint Louis University Madrid


William Johnson, J.D., outgoing dean of the Saint Louis University School of Law, has been named rector and vice president of SLU’s Madrid campus, effective Oct. 1. 

SLU Provost Michael Lewis, Ph.D., said Johnson possesses a unique set of academic, professional and personal skills that made him the ideal choice for the position.

William Johnson, J.D.
William Johnson, J.D., outgoing dean of the Saint Louis University School of Law, has been named rector and vice president of SLU’s Madrid campus, effective Oct. 1. SLU File Photo.

“Bill rightly recognizes the scholarly expertise, teaching excellence, operational prowess, and embodiment of SLU’s institutional Mission among the Madrid campus faculty and staff, and I know he will be a champion for their work and continued growth,” Lewis said. 

A native of Minnesota, Johnson participated in an exchange program when he was young (in what was then West Germany) and then studied abroad as a graduate student in law school (in The Netherlands), which began a lifelong passion for international engagement. 

He has held visiting academic appointments at universities in Lithuania, Germany, and France and has been a guest lecturer at a university in Hungary. He is an internationally recognized scholar of international commercial law – particularly contract law.

Prior to becoming dean of the law school, Johnson served for more than four years as the director of the school’s Center for International and Comparative Law. Concurrently, he served as director of the School of Law’s Summer Law Program in Madrid. 

“Both responsibilities required significant re-imagining of both academic programming and operations, as well as partnership development with organizations throughout Europe and beyond,” Lewis said. “He has facilitated SLU School of Law faculty members’ visiting appointments at multiple European universities, while also creating an international internship program for SLU students in Spain, around Europe, and throughout Latin America.”

As director of the School of Law’s Summer Law Program in Madrid, Johnson spent four consecutive summers at SLU Madrid, where he developed strong relationships with faculty and staff. He has continued to visit SLU Madrid each year as dean. 

“As a trusted peer and colleague of past and current campus leaders in Madrid, Bill has been a consistent, vocal advocate in SLU leadership circles for Madrid faculty, staff, and students,” Lewis said. “He has been a champion of the need to better recognize the Madrid campus’ distinct educational and operational contexts, and recognizes the critical importance of SLU continuing to enhance coordination between people, programs, and services on both the St. Louis and Madrid campuses.”

Lewis noted that Johnson’s relationship with the Madrid campus makes him “poised for success.”

Johnson served as the dean of the School of Law for more than seven years. Lewis said Johnson’s work as dean set a high standard. 

“At a time when internal and external forces all mandated transformational change that, if forced top-down, could have been highly disruptive, Bill led from within, fostering increasingly more meaningful engagement and shared governance throughout his faculty and staff colleagues,” Lewis said. “The result was indeed transformation – for the good, accomplished collaboratively, and in good faith.”

The search committee, led by Anne McCabe, Ph.D. (English), and Marta Moreno, Ph.D. (Mathematics), from the Madrid campus, selected Johnson from a wide pool of candidates. 

Johnson will succeed the three Madrid Campus co-directors, Laurie Mazzuca, Ph.D., Francisco “Paco” García-Serrano, Ph.D. and Victoria Villarreal, who, collectively, have served in an interim capacity since May 2023.

“Laurie, Paco, and Viki have provided more than just steady leadership since Paul’s departure; they have been able to move important work forward, much of which relates to our long-term campus goals,” Lewis said.

About SLU-Madrid

Founded in 1967, SLU's Madrid campus is an innovator in international education and widely recognized for its highly rigorous and transformative American educational programs. As Spain's largest U.S. campus, SLU-Madrid is home to more than 1,200 students from the United States, Spain and more than 65 other countries. In addition to study abroad opportunities, students can earn their entire U.S. degree in Spain, choosing from 20 fully accredited undergraduate majors and two graduate degrees. To learn more, visit