The dean of the School of Social Welfare at the University of Kansas announced Wednesday he was stepping down, less than a year after he took the position.
Paul Smokowski said in a letter that he was giving up his role as dean effective immediately because of a variety of challenges, including dwindling financial resources at the school and ongoing student protests aimed at racial inclusion and equity.
Smokowski will remain at the school, moving to a research position while the KU provost names an acting dean. Smokowski said he will continue as a professor in July.
Student protests, led predominantly by students of color, heated up on the KU campus in Lawrence last year following protests at the University of Missouri that drew national attention and led to the resignation of MU’s chancellor and the university system president.
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Student protesters at the University of Kansas pressed demands for more inclusion on the campus, at times zeroing in on the School of Social Welfare and its dean.
In the letter announcing his resignation as dean, Smokowski cited his efforts to address those demands, including the creation of the Toni Johnson Office of Race and Social Justice, task forces for minority support, and sponsorship of national speakers on race and social justice.
KU had announced the hiring of Smokowski in January last year before he took over as dean in the summer. He had previously been a professor at Arizona State University’s School of Social Work and at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.