Carl Lejuez has been named as the next dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences at KU. Lejuez comes to KU from the University of Maryland. He currently serves there as a professor of psychology and associate dean of research for the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences.
Lejuez will start as the 14th dean of the College in February. To get to know him before his arrival, we asked him to tell us more about himself.
Tell us more about your last name (Lejuez). What’s its origin and how do you say it?
My last name is a source of confusion for most people because it is pronounced so differently than it is spelled. The simplest phonetic spelling I can provide is Leshway but after years of some pretty funny mispronunciations I answer to anything close! The origin is a source of confusion even for my family and I’ve heard lots of different stories about the origin. I’m fairly certain it originally was El Juez which means “The Judge” in Spanish but over the years it was changed to a more French-sounding name and pronunciation. What I do know for sure about my heritage is that my father grew up in the Caribbean Island of Aruba and my mother was raised in an Italian-American community in Northern New Jersey close to where I was born.
You’re recently married. Tell us more about your wife.
I just recently celebrated my one-year anniversary with my wife, Sara. Sara immigrated to the U.S. from Iran about 20 years ago and she currently is an executive producer in television news with the Voice of America Persian News Network. In the U.S., she has only lived in Washington, D.C., and is extremely excited about experiencing a true college town for the first time! We are thinking about getting a dog when we arrive in Lawrence and we are open to suggestions.
What appeals to you about KU and the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences?
The College at KU is a truly remarkable place. I am thrilled about the breadth of the College and pushing my ability to become a well-informed advocate for all the disciplines represented. I have always been interested in being transdisciplinary in my own research (bridging basic science methods with clinical applications in the community) and the range of the College provides ample opportunities. And as an added bonus I’m selfishly excited about the outstanding Department of Psychology and the world-class colleagues I’ll have in clinical psychology.
What do you do for fun?
With the hectic nature of our lives, my wife and I really have learned to enjoy the little things and the time we can spend together. We really love the arts and have taken great advantage of opportunities in D.C. including the symphony, ballet, and the work of smaller, less-traditional theater groups. We know there are great opportunities to continue this in Lawrence and Kansas City as well. While some might not see this as traditional fun, we also pay close attention to American politics and right now we can’t get enough of the drama in both the Democratic and Republican Primaries. Coming to KU with strong departments like political science and history (to name only a few) will provide us with a community to discuss these events as they unfold in the general election next year. Finally, I’m a big sports fan and I can’t wait to enjoy the variety of collegiate sports teams KU offers. I’ve spent my life as a sports fan on the wrong side of the amazing Rock Chalk Chant, but now I can proudly be a part of it!
What excites you about moving to Kansas?
I have spent my entire life on the east coast and I’ve never lived west of Atlanta, so this will be my first experience living in the Midwest! I have become particularly excited about the state of Kansas, as well as the city of Lawrence as a great college town. Having Kansas City and all it offers in the arts and culture just a short drive away only adds to the appeal of the area for me.
What inspires you?
I am inspired by the university setting and being around students. I really have appreciated having close contact with psychology students throughout my career and those in other social science disciplines in the past few years. Now I’m eager to expand the scope of students I’ll have the opportunity to influence and learn from in my new role.
What’s at the top of your bucket list?
I had the opportunity a few years ago to go to Iraqi Kurdistan to train community therapists in a therapy I developed to work with torture victims. Now that the political situation has become even more challenging in that region, I would really like to go back at some point and do more trainings, and possibly train others to come with me, to increase the scope of the effort.
What is a motto you live your life by?
Woody Allen once famously said “90% of success is showing up.” While I think there is some truth to that, I have come to believe “90% of success is actually getting back up.” We are inundated with messages to be fearless and take chances but there seems to be fewer people around offering advice in the times when things don’t work out as planned. Risks should be calculated but sometimes even our best efforts fail. To me, success is about the willingness to fail, learn from the mistakes made, and then try again in a more effective manner.