Announcing the retirement of University Architect Jim Modig


I am writing to let you know that a key member of our leadership team will be retiring from the University of Kansas.

Jim Modig, our university architect, will be leaving KU after a remarkable 41-year career with the university. This is his final week with the university.

While Jim’s departure is a loss for KU, I am delighted he will now have the opportunity to spend more time with his wife, daughter, son and three grandchildren. Ironically, he tells me he will begin his retirement by addressing “deferred maintenance” issues on his own home.

Jim has been on phased retirement for the past 18 months, which has positioned us to ensure a smooth transition as he leaves KU. I am pleased to announce that Mark Reiske, our director of facilities planning and development, will serve as university architect while retaining his role as director. Mark has been with KU for 31 years and has been instrumental to many of our most important development initiatives during that time. I am confident we will benefit from Mark’s leadership as we continue to move KU forward.

Jim has served as university architect since 2011. Prior to that, he served as director of design and construction management for 30 years. In these roles, Jim has been involved in 168 major capital improvements totaling $1.5 billion across the Lawrence and Edwards campuses. Some of Jim’s proudest achievements include the following:

  • In 2014, the university concluded a new Campus Master Plan. Over the subsequent four years, Jim oversaw one of the most prolific design and construction periods in KU history, which included more than 40 projects totaling $737 million.
  • In January 2016, KU launched the transformational Central District project, which included $350 million in development using a unique public-private partnership model to design, build, operate and maintain new research and residential facilities.
  • In recent years, Jim oversaw reconstruction of Jayhawk Boulevard and Memorial Drive, remodeling of Swarthout Recital Hall, renovation at Spencer Museum of Art, and construction of Capitol Federal Hall and the Earth, Energy & Environment Center.
  • Jim collaborated with the Kansas Board of Regents, Kansas Associated General Contractors, American Institute of Architects, and American Council of Engineering Companies to amend statutes and draft legislation. Additionally, Jim has been instrumental in creating a robust working relationship between KU and regional planners.
  • Jim smiles about his “non-traditional” accomplishments, which include decommissioning a nuclear reactor at Burt Hall, closing a mixed-waste burial site, imploding a residence hall and razing more than 60 buildings, nearly half of them in the past five years.

Beyond these specific achievements, Jim has been as kind and helpful a colleague as you could hope to have. He has been the consummate professional and is respected across Kansas not only for his talent but also for his love of KU and the way he treats everyone around him. No matter how tight the deadline or how challenging the assignment, Jim approached his work with an easy-going manner and thoughtfulness that benefitted the project and those with whom he worked. It has been a privilege to work with him, and KU is a better place because of him.

Please join me in thanking Jim for his service and wishing him well on his retirement.



Douglas A. Girod