In Wake of Law School Dean’s Ousting, What Next?

 

Scandals in academia are a bit like grackles, those pesky black birds cawing all over Texas: they’re big, they make a lot of undignified noise, and they can thrive under almost any conditions.

Let us examine the latest grackle to roost on the Forty Acres—the forced resignation last week of UT School of Law dean Larry Sager. Here are the facts:

  • Sager announced in August that he would step down as dean at the end of the 2011-2012 academic year after holding the position since 2006. He did not name a reason for his planned departure.
  • On Oct. 10, three UT law professors submitted an Open Records Request to Kevin Hegarty, UT’s chief financial officer. The professors asked for information on UT law faculty compensation and on equal pay discrimination claims filed by female professors.
  • On Nov. 15, UT provided the requested information, all of which the Texas Tribune posted last week.
  • Last Thursday, President Powers asked Sager to resign immediately, and he did. In a widely circulated letter to the law school faculty, Powers cited concerns about compensation and gender inequities at the law school (though he did not indicate that Sager’s resignation was requested because of those issues).
  • In that Dec. 8 letter, Powers announced the appointment of Professor Stefanie Lindquist as interim dean.
  • On Friday, UT Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa ordered a review of funds at the UT Law School Foundation, the Austin-American Statesman reported. Sager is under scrutiny for granting forgivable loans, funded by the foundation, to help recruit 20 new UT law professors. Sager also received a $500,000 loan himself. Granting such loans is common practice and was started before Sager’s term as dean, he told the Tribune.
  • The scandal has been picked up by the Austin-American Statesman, the Texas Tribune, the popular legal blog Above the Law, and the Texas Monthly Daily Post.

The turnover comes while UT law students are taking their final exams.

Law school photo by Valerie Cook

 

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