Laurence M. Katz, dean of the University of Baltimore School of Law, announced yesterday that he will resign his post after 14 years.
Mr. Katz, 52, said he will remain at the urban law school as a full-time faculty member and is willing to continue as dean until next spring while university officials search for a replacement.
Mr. Katz said he needed a change of pace.
"Like any decision of this magnitude, there are lots of reasons," he said. "One of them is the realization that after 14 years as dean of the law school, when the average tenure is about four years, one gets to realize that it's been a long time."
UB President H. Mebane Turner said he would meet this week with faculty members and students to discuss a replacement, but said a search is not likely to start until this fall. He said Mr. Katz had a "wonderful record" as dean, and he praised his scholarship.
"Although we're losing him as dean, we're very fortunate to be retaining him on faculty," Mr. Turner said.
"With Larry Katz's leadership, the law school has gained the respect and esteem of both the legal and academic communities within the region. I regret his decision to step down, but I understand his desire to return to teaching."
The UB law school, with an enrollment of about 1,000 students, is the state's largest. Since Mr. Katz became dean in 1978, it has gained accreditation from the American Bar Association and the Association of American Law Schools and has expanded its programs.
In 1981, the school moved into its own four-story building at Maryland and Mount Royal avenues, and it now has a law library containing more than 220,000 volumes. Mr. Katz said interest in the school has spread throughout the Northeast, with its pool of applicants now numbering about 3,000 a year.
He said the foundation for the school's growth had been built before he became dean. "I was in the right place at the right time," he said.
But he said he has been frustrated by the recession and ensuing budgetary problems that have reversed the school's growth in recent years.
"It's a problem, and it's going to continue to be one. We've flattened out -- that's the good news, but we're not back where we were -- that's the bad news," he said. "I think higher education has suffered considerably in our state."
He said that the law school needs a long rebuilding process, but that he wasn't prepared to guide it.
Mr. Katz said that despite the recent financial crunch, the school remains in a solid position and has a strong faculty. He said his successor should have an understanding of the school's commitment to quality public legal education and should be willing to support it.
The University of Maryland School of Law graduate became dean of the UB law school in 1978 after serving as associate law dean at UM. He has taught courses in business organizations, commercial transactions, corporations and securities regulation.