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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

SLU Law Dean Tom Keefe Resigns Over Offensive Remarks: "If I Was Them, I'd Fire Me"

Posted By on Tue, Mar 5, 2013 at 2:42 PM

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Update: When news broke yesterday that Saint Louis University Law School Dean Tom Keefe had resigned from his post -- full interview below -- officials at SLU did not respond to requests for comment or provide any official notice to the law school. This afternoon, after a string of media reports in which Keefe admitted he was resigning in the face of internal criticisms over inappropriate comments, Ellen Harshman, interim vice president for academic affairs, has publicly addressed the shake-up.

In a message to the law school, she says Michael Wolff, a current law professor, will be stepping up immediately as dean (as we reported this morning). Harshman's message does not acknowledge the inappropriate comments that Keefe says prompted his resignation.

"The University thanks Keefe for his service to his alma mater, for his commitment to the law school and its students, and for his fundraising efforts," her email to the law school says.

The full letter and our original interview with Keefe is below.

Original post, Tuesday, March 5, 6 a.m: This week brings news of yet another high-profile resignation at Saint Louis University -- but this time it's not in protest of Father Lawrence Biondi.

Thomas Keefe, interim dean of the university's law school, and a Biondi supporter appointed last year after the previous dean resigned, says he decided to step down after he learned that his colleagues were not pleased with inappropriate and politically incorrect comments he has made.

"I stuck my foot in my mouth," he tells Daily RFT. "I'm becoming the story and I'm not supposed to be the story."

What were his offensive comments?

See also: - Resigned Chair Jay Hammond On Lawrence Biondi: "He Creates a Culture of Fear" - SLU: More Faculty Protest As Theology Dept. Chair Jay Hammond Resigns - Lawrence Biondi: "To Those Of You Who Have Been Critical...I Have Listened"

In an interview last night, Keefe tells us that over the last several days, he's learned that members of the university were upset with a string of remarks he has made since he was appointed dean.

"'Life is a bitch. If it was easy, we would call it a slut,'" he says. "Apparently, I said that one time."

Another time, he says, he might have used the phrase "drunker than ten big Indians."

He says he has joked with students that "pot's gotten a lot better than when I was in law school."

An anonymous employee of the law school tells Daily RFT that some of the complaints against Keefe rose to the level of sexual harassment, an accusation the Post-Dispatch also cites.

Keefe, however, tells us that while he has likely said a lot of potentially offensive things, he does not believe he has ever made sexually harassing remarks.

Continue for more of our interview with Tom Keefe.

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