As University of Texas law students crammed for final exams, the school was rocked by scandal as Dean Larry Sager stepped down at university President Bill Powers’ request.
“At the center of the conflict is the law school’s practice of awarding substantial salary stipends and ‘forgivable loans’ to recruit and keep faculty members. The loans listed in the open records request, obtained by the Tribune, include a $500,000 payment to Sager himself,” wrote Texas Tribune reporters Morgan Smith and Reeve Hamilton, who broke the news Thursday afternoon.
Sager, who had headed up the school since 2006, announced in August that this school year would be his last as dean. Powers said that faculty had “growing concern” about Sager’s stewardship of the school, the Tribune reported. Associate Dean Stefanie Linquist will step in as interim dean, Powers told Texas Lawyer.
In October, three professors filed an extensive public records request that asked for a full account of faculty salaries and any bonuses or other compensation, as well as information pertaining to several equal pay discrimination claims filed by female professors. The 75-page response to that request is available to view on the Tribune’s website.
Sager told the Tribune he was very concerned with gender pay equity. He also cited a “very intense personality conflict” that “undermined” his relationship with Powers.
Under Sager’s tenure, the school moved up past Vanderbilt into the “T-14” of law school rankings last year, the Tribune noted. “Aren’t you supposed to get some kind of prize for moving your school into the top 14?” Above the Law’s Elie Mystal asked, with a tinge of regret over the loss of the New Yorker who had thrived in Texas. “We’ve been a big fan of Dean Sager around these parts.”
Over the years, students have shown their appreciation for Sager by playing a series of jokes on him. On April Fool’s Day in 2009, a student circulated a letter purportedly from Sager in which he announced he was retiring to raise emus in the Texas Hill Country. “Not as a source of food, mind you, but as a means of human locomotion,” the letter said, according to Above the Law. To mark the same holiday in 2011, an enterprising student opened “Larry Sager’s Law Bodega,” an Etsy shop.