By MAGGIE GEBHARDT

mgebhardt@dailynews.net

Fort Hays State University's Todd Powell, who serves as the university's general counsel, has decided to pursue an opportunity with a private practice law firm in Hays.

Powell, originally from Goodland, is a 1995 graduate of FHSU with a bachelor's of art in history.

Post graduation, he attended Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, where he obtained his juris doctor degree in 1998.

After completion of law school, Powell began employment for a judge on the court of appeals, remaining there for one year before practicing law privately for approximately five years.

In October 2004, he returned to FHSU, accepting a position as general counsel and executive assistant to the university's president. He has remained in this seat for the last 10 years.

Powell is the only legal attorney for the university.

"I consider myself to have been a solo practitioner in higher education law for 10 years," he said. "I certainly gained experience in that capacity, but also more experience handling new issues that I had never encountered before."

Due to ever-changing times and constantly evolving laws, Powell said his position with FHSU consistently presented challenges.

"It has been extremely challenging due to the variety of types of issues that can come up. As society changes, legal issues arise," he said. "It has been challenging but rewarding to be able to deal with such a multitude of various legal issues."

While describing the work scene at FHSU, Powell said it is a setting he will miss.

"The environment was very professional and provided great learning opportunities," he said. "The individuals around me were all very hard-working and dedicated to the students."

Powell spoke about the transition he will make in order to pursue his new career path.

"I will really miss the people that I have worked with that I won't be able to see every day anymore -- and just the ability to come to campus every day trying to anticipate what the next challenge or opportunity is going to be," he said.

Referring to his future position that will begin in early 2015, Powell said his "intended practice areas are more in line with this new job."

Though transitioning employment, Powell and his family are excited the new career opportunity will allow them to remain residents of Hays.

"I enjoy Hays, and my family enjoys Hays," said Powell, who has two children. "It offers a great quality of life, and we are very connected to the community. I am pleased that we will get to continue to call Hays home."

Powell said he and his family will continue to be loyal supporters of the university.

"I am wishing for its continued success," he said. "I have thoroughly enjoyed my position at Fort Hays."

Powell's last day with FHSU is Dec. 31.