Father David Link headshot.

Father David Link, St. Thomas School of Law Founding Dean, Dies

Father David Link, St. Thomas School of Law founding dean, died Oct. 28 at age 85.  

Link was part of a core team of individuals assembled in 1999 to hire faculty and staff, establish temporary facilities, recruit students, apply for accreditation and more when the university was examining its options for a law school. He was named founding dean, a role he held until 2002.  

Link, a Sandusky, Ohio, native, earned his bachelor’s and law degrees from the University of Notre Dame. He was dean of Notre Dame Law School for 24 years (1975-99). 

“David Link helped launch the law school by giving us instant credibility in legal education circles given his longtime leadership role at Notre Dame,” said Robert Vischer, St. Thomas School of Law dean and Mengler Chair in Law.  

After his wife, Barbara, died in 2003, Link entered the Sacred Heart School of Theology in Wisconsin and was ordained to the priesthood at age 71. As a priest, he focused on prison ministry in northern Indiana. 

“Throughout his career, he was a model of servant leadership, as underscored by his post-deanship dedication to prison ministry,” Vischer said. “He remains an inspiring model of how lawyers can use their gifts and expertise to bless others.” 

Survivors include his brother Frank A. Link; children David C. Link, Mary Esparza, Maureen Favorite and Teran Trauernicht; 15 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.     

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 9:30 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 8, 2021, at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on the campus of the University of Notre Dame.