The president of the University of Texas, William Powers Jr., has asked for - and received - the immediate resignation of UT Law Dean Lawrence Sager. Sager had previously announced he would be leaving the position at the end of the school year. Professor Stefanie Lindquist was named interim dean.
According to reports, there was significant faculty unhappiness - particularly over compensation disparities. In particular, some faculty were apparently unhappy about the school's forgivable loan program which Sager used to lure, or keep, faculty. Dean Sager sent this letter to faculty explaining some of his compensation practices earlier this week.
Elite state schools - and indeed, all elite law schools outside of the Atlantic and Pacific coastal corridors - struggle to recruit and retain those faculty targeted by the private school elites in the corridors. The fact is that Yale, Harvard, NYU, and their counterpart are fierce recruiters with lots of money and relatively little oversight in the allocation of those funds. The question a school like Texas must ask is whether it is willing to absorb the costs of competing with these schools. As is evident in this dispute, the costs go beyond mere dollars (and the risk of taxpayer outrage) and extend deeply into the culture and community of the institution.
The Texas faculty may consider Dean Sager's tenure there to be a failure; it is not at all clear that his former colleagues at NYU, and their peers in the region, would offer a similar assessment. Actually, they might be pretty impressed.