Brent Mai named dean of Wichita State University Libraries

Brent Mai has been named the next dean of Wichita State University’s Libraries, effective Oct. 15.

Previously serving as the dean of the Thomas G. Carpenter Library at the University of North Florida since 2019, dean of libraries at Fairfield University from 2016 to 2019 and the University Libraries dean of Concordia University from 2003 to 2016, Mai brings nearly 30 years of experience working in academic libraries to WSU.

Mai will replace Kathy Downes, who retires in September. Downes served as dean since 2017, but initially came to WSU in 1979 as a biomedical librarian.

"I'm looking forward to leading the outstanding faculty and staff of the Ablah Library as it continues to strengthen the opportunities for academic success among WSU's students and faculty through teaching and learning, research and scholarship," Mai said.

At WSU, Mai will strive to continue elevating University Libraries and ensuring the success of students on campus by promoting the vision of the university, including areas of collaboration, inclusivity and digital transformation.

“I am pleased to welcome Brent as the next dean of University Libraries,” said Dr. Shirley Lefever, WSU executive vice president and provost. “He brings a wealth of talent and prior experience to this role that will facilitate the university’s continued growth in our academic and research pursuits. His familiarity with student success will also further our efforts in student retention and persistence. We look forward to the future of University Libraries under his leadership.”

Mai earned his Doctor of Education from Vanderbilt University and his Master of Library and Information Science from the University of Texas at Austin. He returns to Kansas after growing up on the prairies of western Kansas, with familial roots in farming dating back to 1892.

“It's like coming full circle for me in my career," Mai said.

About Wichita State University

Wichita State University is Kansas' only urban public research university, enrolling almost 22,000 students between its main campus and WSU Tech, including students from every state in the U.S. and more than 100 countries. Wichita State and WSU Tech are recognized for being student centered and innovation driven.

Located in the largest city in the state with one of the highest concentrations in the United States of jobs involving science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), Wichita State University provides uniquely distinctive and innovative pathways of applied learning, applied research and career opportunities for all of our students.

The Innovation Campus, which is a physical extension of the Wichita State University main campus, is one of the nation’s largest and fastest-growing research/innovation parks, encompassing over 120 acres and is home to a number of global companies and organizations.

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