A New Yorker moves to the Midwest to become dean of KU's law school.
Michael Hoeflich said today that as dean of Kansas University's law school he will aggressively expand out-of-class legal programs for students and faculty.
"My idea of a law school is a school that provides a significant degree of service to the state," said Hoeflich, who will become KU's law dean July 1.
Hoeflich, 42, has been dean of law at Syracuse University for six years. He will replace Robert Jerry, who will resume full-time teaching.
Jerry endorsed Hoeflich's appointment. It made a difference that KU officials went outside Lawrence to find a replacement, he said.
"Anytime you bring in somebody from outside you get a lot of ideas you haven't thought of," he said.
KU Chancellor Gene Budig said Hoeflich's candidacy stirred enthusiasm among KU's law constituencies.
"He is full of energy and ideas. We can feel very good about his selection," said U.S. District Judge John Lungstrum, a member of the law dean search committee.
Hoeflich said he was eager to establish a clinic in conjunction with another academic unit of the university. For example, the KU Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan., could work with KU law students to create a center that would provide free legal service to elderly people.
He said the center could offer a range of services that are difficult for people on fixed-incomes to afford.
He plans to start a Student Research Bureau. Law students at the bureau would do free legal research to any elected official in Kansas, he said.
Part of the KU job's allure to Hoeflich was that his wife, Karen Nordheden, could join the KU engineering faculty as an assistant professor.
"It was too irresistible an offer to refuse," Hoeflich said in an interview from his office in Syracuse, N.Y.
He said another factor in his decision to leave Syracuse was his desire to teach at a public university. Syracuse is private.
"I'm concerned about the increasing cost of a legal education," he said. "One of the great problems with private law schools is the cost. It's important to not have a law class graduate $80,000 in debt."
Hoeflich is also a history professor at Syracuse. That reflects his interest in the history of Roman law. His primary research interest is modern tax law, he said.