KU alumni honor the legacy of longtime KU Libraries administrator

Cliff and Sue Haka.

LAWRENCE — More than 35 years after working at Watson Library at the University of Kansas, Cliff Haka returned to the stacks with his wife, Sue Haka, to honor someone who made a big impact on his life: the late James Ranz, who served as dean of KU Libraries from 1975 to 1990. The Hakas’ gift provided for the naming of the Dean James Ranz Administrative Suite and was given to show their appreciation of the education and mentoring received at KU.

“We really felt we owed a significant debt to KU,” Cliff Haka said. “Sue had never considered a career in academia, and I had never considered a career in library administration until we came to school here. Both of us came to head down those paths based on what happened here at KU.”

For Sue Haka, it was an encounter with a KU professor, Larry Gordon, who encouraged her to pursue a doctorate, resulting in a successful university career in accounting that would see her being named a Distinguished Professor of Accounting and elected as the president of the American Accounting Association.

 For Cliff Haka, the mentoring he received from Ranz enabled him to successfully lead Michigan State University Libraries for more than 20 years.

“I was much better prepared to be the director of Libraries at Michigan State University from what I learned from Jim,” Cliff Haka said. “And I don’t think it’s a stretch at all to say that I didn’t do anything of substance or make any substantial decision that wasn’t in some way guided by what he taught me.”

To some, it might seem strange that the Hakas would give to KU after long careers at another university, but both believe their lives were better for having studied here.

“In retirement, you have a chance to reflect and for Sue and me, we recognized we owed a great debt to KU,” Cliff Haka said. “I like to think that both of us would have been reasonably successful, wherever we happened to be, but KU put us on a trajectory where we lived in a great university environment, where we had some very enriching careers, and we really loved what we did and we were well rewarded for it. Without KU and our chance meeting and the mentorships with Dr. Gordon and Dr. Ranz, I don’t think we would have been as successful as we were.”

“We are grateful that Cliff and Sue kept KU Libraries in their hearts long after they moved on to great career endeavors and achievements,” said Carol Smith dean of KU Libraries. “Any year would be a special time to remember Jim Ranz and honor the Haka’s gift, but this year – just before our beloved Watson Library turns 100 – seems especially fitting and truly the start of what will be a tremendous centennial celebration in September 2024.”

The Dean James A. Ranz Administrative Suite was officially dedicated Nov. 2. The space houses Smith and much of the KU Libraries leadership team. The plaque outside the main entrance features a picture of Ranz and the following inscription:

Dr. James Ranz

Dean of Libraries, 1975-1990

Dean Jim Ranz was a keen developer of people and of places, a transformational leader who laid the cornerstones of what our community enjoys and experiences at KU Libraries today. With a sharp focus on library facilities, Ranz led space renovations and location consolidations. Under his leadership, Anschutz Library was constructed and Watson Library was modernized.

In addition to the progress he ushered in among KU Libraries locations, Ranz understood the power and potential of the people who worked for KU Libraries. He encouraged his colleagues’ growth and mentored their professional development. He fostered their futures as librarians, leaders, and deans. Jim Ranz’s contributions stretch beyond his 15 years as dean, impacting generations of Jayhawks – those who work and study at the University of Kansas Libraries.

A gift from Sue and Cliff Haka supported the naming of the Dean James Ranz Administrative Suite, in appreciation of the education received at KU, which enabled Sue to become a Distinguished Professor of Accounting and the President of the American Accounting Association, and the mentoring from Dean Ranz that enabled Cliff to successfully lead Michigan State University Libraries for more than 20 years.

About KU Endowment

KU Endowment is the independent, nonprofit organization serving as the official fundraising and fund-management organization for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment was the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.

About KU Libraries

KU Libraries are among the top 50 libraries in the Association of Research Libraries by volumes held, and the largest in Kansas with more than 5.6 million items in six campus locations. The libraries transform lives by inspiring the discovery and creation of knowledge for the university and our global community. KU Libraries support institutional, national, and international efforts to transform scholarly communication towards a more open and equitable future.

Thu, 12/07/2023


Michelle Keller

Media Contacts

Michelle Keller

KU Endowment