University of Arkansas law school's dean will step down

Posted: October 21, 2017 at 4:29 a.m.

Stacy Leeds

Stacy Leeds

FAYETTEVILLE -- Stacy Leeds, dean of the University of Arkansas School of Law in Fayetteville since 2011, is stepping down next year.

Leeds will remain as a professor at the law school, university spokesman Mark Rushing said Friday.

In an email, Leeds said she wants to ensure "we have a great transition in leadership," and said 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 Rushing said the university hopes to have a new dean in place by the 2018-19 academic year.

Described by UA as the only American Indian woman to lead a law school, Leeds oversaw curriculum changes for first-year students and the creation of an Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative, which provides assistance to tribal governments and also brings American Indian youths to the UA campus for leadership events. Leeds, 45, is a member of the Cherokee Nation.

Last year, Leeds accepted a five-year reappointment to serve a second term as dean. Earlier this year, Chancellor Joe Steinmetz assigned her to serve as interim vice chancellor for economic development. Rushing described the post as "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."

Leeds said she's enjoying the new role, engaging with the full UA 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 this week 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 UA's law school, with 353 students enrolled this fall compared to 413 in 2011.

A search committee led by Todd Shields, dean of UA's J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, will assist with finding the school's next dean, with internal candidates able to apply, Rushing said.

Leeds earns a yearly salary of $303,323, according to the university. She said that as dean, the full law school community "worked incredibly hard as a cohesive group to reach new heights," and she said that work will be ongoing.

"We are continuing full steam ahead this year, hiring new faculty and continuing to improve our program for our current and future students," Leeds said. "My priority is that nothing will skip a beat with our students or within our strong relationships with the bench and bar. I am confident we will accomplish all of this."

Metro on 10/21/2017