Evan Riggs
Office of the Provost

KU names executive dean of College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Thu, 12/01/2022

LAWRENCE – The University of Kansas has selected Arash Mafi to be executive dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. Mafi currently serves as the interim dean at the University of New Mexico, a position he has held since July 2021. His appointment as executive dean of the College is effective March 1, 2023.  

Arash Mafi“The feedback from our community members highlighted Dr. Mafi’s commitment to listening, his record of excellence in research and education, and his enthusiasm for innovation,” said Barbara A. Bichelmeyer, provost and executive vice chancellor. “He appreciates KU’s history of excellence as well as our opportunities to strengthen equity and to more fully serve our state while having greater impact nationally and internationally. I welcome Arash to KU, and I’m truly excited to work with him as he leads the College in future years.” 

The College, the largest academic unit at KU, is composed of 9,500 undergraduates, 1,600 graduate students, 650 faculty and 300 staff. It provides students with a broad foundation of arts, humanities, mathematics, social and behavioral sciences, and natural sciences to expand their knowledge and provide new ways of thinking about challenges. Its academic programming reaches all undergraduate and many graduate students on the Lawrence and Edwards campuses.

“I am honored and excited by the opportunity to lead the College at KU and promote our shared vision of supporting student success, fostering healthy and vibrant communities, and advancing research and discovery,” Mafi said. “KU is an internationally renowned university with a distinguished past and a bright future. I look forward to working with the administration, faculty, staff, students, alumni and community to ensure that KU and the College continue to expand their global prominence in higher education.”

A faculty member at UNM for eight years, Mafi has served in a variety of administrative roles at UNM, which has one of the most diverse student bodies of any flagship university in the nation and is one of only a handful of research-intensive Hispanic-serving institutions. He spent five years as the director of UNM’s Center for High Technology Materials, an internationally renowned interdisciplinary research center. He also served one year as the chair for Optical Science and Engineering.

He is currently a full professor of physics and astronomy in addition to serving as interim dean.

Mafi is a fellow of the International Society for Optics and Photonics, a fellow of Optica (formerly Optical Society of America) and a senior member of IEEE, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. His research has resulted in high-impact publications in several disciplines.

Mafi earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from Sharif University of Technology in Tehran, Iran, a master’s degree in physics and a doctorate in theoretical particle physics from The Ohio State University.  He held postdoctoral fellowships in particle physics and photonics at the University of Arizona. He worked as a senior research scientist for four years at Corning before returning to academia as an assistant professor and then associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Mafi will be the first executive dean of the College, a title that reflects the size of the organization, as well as the breadth of scholarship and academics available through its people, departments, programs and research centers. The College is home to about 50 departments, programs and centers, as well as the School of the Arts and School of Public Affairs & Administration. Those departments, programs and centers offer more than 150 majors, minors and certificates and prepare students with fundamental skills and knowledge that will serve them in any career.

“I am especially thrilled by the diversity of disciplines in the College,” Mafi said, “and the possibilities to connect various departments, programs and centers to advance the College’s collective education and research mission.”

KU in the news

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