John Cruden ’74, the former Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the U.S. Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, is the new president of the Environmental Law Institute, which calls itself “an internationally recognized, non-partisan research and education center working to strengthen environmental protection by improving law and governance worldwide.”

A past president of the District of Columbia Bar, Cruden has supervised all federal civil environmental litigation since 1995, including work on landmark cases like the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska and the conclusion of the long-running Love Canal case. He is a two-time recipient of the prestigious Presidential Rank Award.

ELI Board Chairman William Eichbaum, Vice President of Marine and Arctic Policy for the World Wildlife Fund, praised Cruden for his leadership, integrity and ability to build consensus around highly charged issues.

“The increasingly contentious and partisan conversations about the environment undermine the effective application of law and environmental policies, and, with them, decades of environmental progress,” Eichbaum said. Cruden “has an unmatched track record of bringing people together and creating real, meaningful solutions to today’s toughest environmental challenges.”

Cruden said in a statement Monday through ELI that “the nation and the world are at an important crossroads. For 40 years, the U.S. has been among the world leaders in developing a legal framework to control pollution and manage our natural resources. Republican and Democratic presidents passed historic laws with broad bi-partisan support from Congress that benefit our nation, our people and our economy. That legacy—the essential framework of an efficient system of governance and level playing field grounded in the rule of law, sound science and public participation—is in jeopardy.”

Environmental law was still embryonic when Cruden, a West Point graduate and decorated Special Forces veteran, passed the bar. He had learned about Santa Clara Law from a graduate who talked it up while both men were soldiers in Vietnam. Cruden took the LSAT in Saigon and won a leave to attend Santa Clara. Back on active duty, he continued his education at the Army’s graduate law program, where he was named outstanding graduate while also earning a masters degree in government and foreign affairs from the University of Virginia. He is a 2006 recipient of Santa Clara Law’s Alumni Achievement Award.

For more on Cruden, visit:

ELI release and a video of Cruden

During this academic year, Santa Clara University School of Law is celebrating its first 100 years of educating lawyers who lead. Founded in 1911 on the site of California’s oldest operating higher-education institution, Santa Clara Law is dedicated to educating lawyers who lead, with a commitment to excellence, ethics, and social justice. One of the nation’s most diverse law schools, Santa Clara Law offers its 975 students an academically rigorous program, including graduate degrees in international law and intellectual property law; a combined J.D./MBA degree; a combined J.D./MSIS degree; and certificates in high technology law, international law, and public interest and social justice law. Santa Clara Law is located in the world-class business center of Silicon Valley, and is distinguished nationally for its top-ranked program in intellectual property. For more information, see