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Opinion

Opinion

Law leadership

Kansas University’s new law school dean has plans to build the school’s program and reputation.

April 8, 2011

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Kansas University appears to have landed a winner with the selection of Stephen W. Mazza as the new dean of the School of Law. Hopefully, other current or future search efforts at KU will be as successful.

Mazza has been acting dean since Gail Agrawal left to become dean of the University of Iowa School of Law in July 2010. He was named permanent dean last week.

Mazza has an excellent academic background, studying law at the University of Alabama and New York University. He has practiced tax law in a large Atlanta firm and served as an acting professor at New York University. His book — “Tax Controversies: Practice and Procedure” — written with Leandra Lederman, is considered a definitive text on tax procedure and tax litigation.

He joined KU in 1998 and, since becoming acting dean, has been traveling throughout the state and the country telling the story of the KU School of Law.

The school continues to be well respected and is considered a top-tier public law school by U.S. News & World Report. But enrollment is down, and the school is facing competition in the region from the law schools at Washburn University and the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Given that competition, increasing enrollment at the KU law school may not be as important as ensuring that the school provides a high quality legal education to its students.

What matters most is improving the school’s excellence. He says he will work to increase scholarship offerings to help attract outstanding students.

The law school faculty is enthusiastically supporting Mazza’s selection as dean. In turn, he pledges to improve their compensation, which will help to attract and retain top professors.

Mazza is eager to do what he can to build the school of law into a true regional and national leadership position. His plans for the future put him in a good position to reach those goals.

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