About the Dean

Image of Executive Dean Arash Mafi
Executive Dean Arash Mafi

Dean Arash Mafi has served as executive dean of KU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences since March 2023. Known as “the heart of KU,” the College educates more students and generates more scholarship, creative work, research, and research funding than any other entity on campus. As executive dean, Mafi envisions a College where every student is free from judgment or bias and feels safe, secure, welcomed, valued, and embraced, with access to a wealth of resources designed to help them succeed. He strives to create a College where faculty members are equally valued and respected, whether they dedicate themselves to research or teaching, and where the service load is distributed equitably, with each contribution acknowledged and appreciated. For the College staff, he seeks to create an environment where staff members consider themselves essential collaborators in the pursuit of academic excellence. Finally, for the state of Kansas, he aspires to provide a College that is deeply engaged with our local communities through partnerships, outreach programs, and collaborative initiatives, actively contributing to the economic development of Kansas and beyond by fostering innovation, entrepreneurship, job creation, and enriching the cultural fabric of our communities. Through these efforts, Dean Mafi aims to boost not only the profile of the College, but of the University as well, strengthening our already solid reputation as the flagship Research 1 AAU institution in Kansas that serves as the state’s gateway to the world.

Prior to arriving at KU, Mafi served as Interim Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of New Mexico (UNM) from 2021 to 2023. He joined UNM in 2014 as a Professor of Physics & Astronomy. While there, Mafi served as the General Chair of Optical Science and Engineering in 2015 and as the Director of the Center for High Technology Materials (CHTM) from 2016 to 2021. Before that, he had postdoctoral appointments at the University of Arizona, in Physics and The Optical Sciences Center, and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he was an associate professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. He earned his Ph.D. in theoretical high energy physics from The Ohio State University in 2001.

Dean Mafi is a Fellow of the Optical Society of America (OSA), a Fellow of the International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE), and a Senior Member of IEEE. He was also a recipient of the NSF CAREER Award in 2013. Physics World of the Institute of Physics (IOP) selected his research group's work on Anderson Localization as a Top 10 Breakthrough in Physics in 2014. Most recently, in 2020, his research group led an international collaboration that demonstrated the first laser cooling of silica, for which they currently hold the world record for cooling. His research focuses on integrating fundamental science and application at the intersection of quantum nonlinear optics and complexity. In recent years, Dr. Mafi has mainly explored the quantum and nonlinear aspects of light-matter interaction in complex and disordered photonic structures, both in fundamental science and device applications.

To schedule a meeting with the dean or request his appearance at an event, please contact Amanda Burghart at amccoy@ku.edu or 785-864-6159. For event appearances, please allow at least three weeks' notice.