Law Schools

U of Texas regents OK external probe of law school funding


In a close vote after an unusually contentious meeting Wednesday, the board of regents for the University of Texas System voted 4-3 to approve an outside probe of a law school funding controversy.

The controversy centers on some $5.5 million in loans provided by the University of Texas Law School Foundation to the university’s law school in Austin. Much or all of the money was paid out in forgivable loans to law faculty. Former law dean Lawrence Sager received a $500,000 forgivable loan and was asked to step down, the San Antonio Express-News recounts.

An Alcalde article reports that faculty salaries have been supplemented for decades, but that there was disagreement about the level of transparency concerning recent loans.

Opponents of the new investigation said it would be a waste of money to spend $500,000 on a new investigation when the situation has already been resolved. Barry Burgdorf, who serves as vice chancellor and general counsel for the UT System, recommended ending the loan program after looking into the law school’s relationship with the foundation, and the Texas Attorney General’s office agreed, citing “potential legal and ethical issues,” the newspaper reports. Burgdorf has since resigned, effective April 30.

However, others said the external probe is needed to restore trust in the university’s integrity, according to the newspaper.

Articles in the Daily Texan, the Dallas Morning News and the Texas Tribune provide further details.

Earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Foundation’s Forgivable Loans to U of Texas Law Profs Draw Fire; Former Dean Got $500K”

Associated Press/KXAN: “Regents bar Powers, others from deleting emails”

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