Kansas University leaders will now have to fill a fourth high-profile administrative position after Gail Agrawal, KU’s law school dean, announced Monday she was leaving in July for the same position at the University of Iowa.
“The decision to leave my faculty and staff colleagues here at KU has been the most difficult of my professional career, even as the offer to lead the Iowa College of Law is a once-in-a-career opportunity,” Agrawal said.
She said Iowa has some new initiatives in policy and health reform, which are areas of her interest.
Danny Anderson, KU’s interim provost, lauded Agrawal’s performance as dean at KU since 2006 and said she helped advance research and emphasized diversity in faculty and student recruitment.
“Given a person of her stature, it’s not surprising that another nationally prominent law school would want someone like her,” Anderson said.
Agrawal will finish the academic year at KU. Anderson said he was in the process of appointing a committee for a national search. He said he would also soon appoint an interim law dean.
This will be the fourth major search in the KU leadership shakeup that began more than a year ago. Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, the former provost at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, took over in August for Robert Hemenway, who opted to return to writing and teaching.
KU officials also must fill top academic positions of provost, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the first dean of the new School of Music, in addition to the law school dean position.
“I view that as an opportunity for the new chancellor to put together her own leadership team,” said Mike Hoeflich, a KU law professor who was the school’s dean from 1994 to 2000.
KU officials on Monday credited Agrawal for revising the curriculum for first-year students, boosting the percentage of alumni giving and improving the school’s record on diversity.
U.S. News and World Report ranked KU as 32nd in the nation among public university law schools. Among law schools overall in the rankings, KU was ranked 65th, while Iowa was ranked 26th.
Agrawal had served on the North Carolina law faculty for nine years before coming to Lawrence.
“We will use that same approach as we are searching for a new dean to really ensure that we continue to have someone of the stature of Dean Agrawal who will help us advance the kind of projects that have been a priority for the past three years,” Anderson said.
Bill Westerbeke, a KU law professor for 36 years, said Agrawal was an effective administrator who had helped start restructuring the school’s curriculum.
“I think generally people have been very happy with her and are kind of sad that she’s leaving,” Westerbeke said.