Leeds to step down as Arkansas law dean

BY STAFF REPORTS
10/26/2017 12:00 PM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Stacy Leeds
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Cherokee Nation citizen Stacy Leeds will step down as the University of Arkansas School of Law’s dean in 2018 but will remain at the school as a law professor and interim vice chancellor for economic development, university officials said.

Under Leeds’ tenure, the school has been named among the top 20 best values in legal education since 2011 – and top 10 since 2013 – by National Jurist magazine.

“Our entire law school community has worked incredibly hard as a cohesive group to reach new heights in terms of national prominence, community impact and student success,” Leeds said. “Successful and smooth leadership transitions are critical for institutions, and I’m very proud that our law school will start this search from a position of strength.”

In an Arkansas Democrat Gazette story, Leeds said she wants to ensure “we have a great transition in leadership,” and that her time as the law school’s leader exceeded the average tenure for a law dean. She said she plans to step down at the end of June, and officials said the university hopes to have a new dean in place by the 2018-19 academic year.

As the only American Indian woman to lead a law school, she oversaw curriculum changes for first-year students and the creation of an Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative, which provides assistance to tribal governments and brings American Indian youths to the university campus for leadership events.

The 45-year-old accepted a five-year reappointment in 2016 to serve a second term as dean.

Earlier this year, she took on the role as interim vice chancellor for economic development, “coordinating the University of Arkansas’ efforts to foster economic development and outreach in Arkansas, part of the university’s mission as a land-grant and flagship institution,” officials said.

Leeds said she’s enjoying the new role, engaging with the full university campus and the state’s business community.

“As you might imagine, it would be difficult for anyone to do both jobs (and do them well) for more than an academic year,” Leeds said.

A job posting published on UA’s website announced the search for her replacement.

In the posting, the university states that the next dean’s duties will include “promoting collaboration with other colleges and schools on campus in support of cross disciplinary and campus wide initiatives” and “initiating outreach efforts to heighten the visibility and distinctiveness of the college.”

Law-school enrollment is down nationally, according to the American Bar Association. Enrollment has also decreased at the university’s law school, with 353 students enrolled this fall compared to 413 in 2011.

A search committee will assist with finding the school’s next dean, with internal candidates being able to apply, officials said.

Leeds earns a yearly salary of $303,323, according to the university.

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