Arash Mafi, interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at The University of New Mexico, has accepted a similar position as executive dean for the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences (CLAS) at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kan. Mafi will begin his new position at KU on March 1, 2023.

“Arash Mafi has been an exceptional colleague,” said UNM Provost James Holloway. “He took on the leadership of our largest and most complex college at a very challenging time, and has moved the college forward with humility and humanity.  I feel privileged to have worked with him.”

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Arash Mafi

Holloway has launched a national search for the next dean for the UNM College of Arts & Sciences; details can be found on the Executive Search Website.  In the meantime, effective March 1, 2023, Professor Janie Chermak, currently serving as chair of the Department of Economics, will take on the role of interim dean of Arts and Sciences until the next dean arrives in late summer 2023.

Mafi will be the first executive dean of the College, a title that reflects the size of the organization, as well as the breadth of scholarship and academics available through its people, departments, programs and research centers. The College is home to about 50 departments, programs and centers, as well as the School of the Arts and School of Public Affairs & Administration. Those departments, programs and centers offer more than 150 majors, minors and certificates and prepare students with fundamental skills and knowledge that will serve them in any career.

"It has been a great honor and privilege to serve as the interim Dean of the college, and I am thankful to Provost Holloway for putting his trust in me," Mafi said. "I have benefited tremendously from working with outstanding and dedicated colleagues, including those in the Dean's office, chairs and directors, and faculty and staff in the college and beyond. UNM and New Mexico have offered me countless personal and professional opportunities, for which I am forever grateful. I sincerely thank all my colleagues, faculty and staff, and students for this incredible journey."

An accomplished researcher, Mafi has served as interim dean at the College of Arts and Sciences since July 2021. He is a full professor of physics and astronomy and was the chair of Optical Science and Engineering before transitioning to the director’s position at the Center for High Tech Materials (CHTM) in 2016. Mafi joined UNM in 2014 coming from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Mafi is a fellow of the International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE), a fellow of Optica (formerly Optical Society of America), and a senior member of the Institute of Electrical Electronics Engineers (IEEE). His research has resulted in high-impact publications in several disciplines. His research has been continuously funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Defense (DoD), and industry.

Mafi received his B.S. degree in physics from Sharif University of Technology in Iran, and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in physics from The Ohio State University.