Contact KU and higher ed reporter Sara ShepherdHave a tip or story idea?
After more than 20 years at Kansas University, Thomas Heilke, dean of the KU College of Graduate Studies, will leave his position this winter.
Heilke recently took a job at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan Campus. There, he will be the associate dean of the College of Graduate Studies and inaugural director of the Residential Graduate College.
Heilke, a Canadian native, said much of the job's allure was that it put him closer to his family, including his two grown children, both of whom currently live in Canada.
Beyond that, he said the position was a near-perfect fit given his experience. “The job description read like a chronology of my vitae,” he said.
Heilke said he will miss his friendships from two decades of living in Lawrence.
“Unless you’re some kind of a troll you don’t leave a community after 20 years and then just shake the dust off when you leave,” he said.
He and his wife took to Lawrence nearly immediately upon moving to the city in 1990, when he began teaching political science as an assistant professor at KU. “We’re prairie people. We felt right at home, right from the get go,” he said.
Along with the friends he’s made, Heilke said he will miss Lawrence’s downtown, its restaurants, its music and arts scene, and the level of local political engagement he’s seen in the community.
A search for Heilke’s successor will begin immediately, according to a news release. The search will be in-house, limited to current full professors at KU.
From 2003 to 2007 Heilke served as associate dean of international programs at the university before becoming director of Center for Global and International Studies in 2010.
In 2012 Heilke succeeded Sara Rosen as dean of the graduate school. As dean he worked with faculty to develop an implementation plan for KU’s “Bold Initiatives” strategic playbook.