Ousted University of Texas Law School Dean Lawrence Sager paid himself $500k in funds from an independent foundation after he was turned down for a raise, according to a report from the Texas Tribune. Sager had approached Provost Steven Leslie for a raise in 2009, but was rebuffed because the public university was facing lean economic times. Sager then broached the idea of the Foundation extending him the loan.
The payment was examined by the University of Texas Vice Chancellor and General Counsel Barry Burgdorf, whose report finds "the idea of Dean Sager's $500,000 forgiveable personal loan was his." The Burgdorf report details the history of the University of Texas Law School Foundation, which was started in 1951 to support the law school and its attractiveness to top faculty. The Foundation, currently valued at $111M is overseen by a board of top Texas lawyers.
Sager used the program like a personal U.S. News slush fund, extending $4.6M in forgiveable loans to 23 faculty members. The report noted the role that law school faculty qualty plays in law school rankings and details the pressure Sager was under when he became Dean, having just lost star faculty members. "Other top law schools were circling the law school's remaining faculty," according to the report. Among the notable faculty who had recently left as Sager took office were Doug Laycock, who went to Michigan, and is now at Virginia; Mark Gergen, who joined Boalt; Brian Leiter, who joined the University of Chicago; Ernie Young, who went to Duke; and Sarah Cleveland, Philip Bobbitt and Ronald Mann, all of whom joined Columbia.
During his tenure - and with his largesse to faculty - Sager had accomplished what no dean before him had: he broke into the vaunted "T14", the top 14 ranked law schools, according to U.S. News. Since 1990, the composition (if not the order) of the T14 had remained constant: Boalt, Chicago, Columbia, Cornell, Duke, Georgetown, Harvard, Michigan, NYU, Northwestern, Penn, Stanford, Virginia and Yale. In 2012, he attained a tie for 14th; after his ouster, Texas tumbled back to #16.
The report has also caused a debate at JDUnderground regarding Leiter's thoughts on the fiasco. Leiter is the author of Leiter's Law School Reports, one of the most comprehensive online discussions of law schools and professors. In the wake of Sager's departure, Leiter wrote of a "slave revolt" (the slaves in this case allegedly being female faculty who chafed at only receiving two of the 24 loans). His analysis of the documents, including thoughts on the Texas Attorney General's conclusions about the loans, is here.