TSU’s interim law school dean steps down after event canceled
Incident involved a conservative Texas lawmaker
Texas Southern University’s interim law school dean is leaving his position two weeks after the university’s new president shut down an event featuring a conservative state lawmaker.
James Douglas, the interim law school dean, will be replaced on Wednesday by Gary Bledsoe, an Austin attorney who once served as a TSU regent and is now president of the Texas NAACP.
Douglas said Saturday that he submitted his resignation in September before the student-organized event took place because he and TSU President Austin Lane had “different views on how the law school ought to be managed.”
Lane accepted his resignation on Oct. 18, about a week after the scheduled speech, Douglas said. Douglas will continue to teach at the university, Lane said in a memo to campus released Friday afternoon.
“I appreciate all the work that he has done for the law school,” Lane wrote.
Lane’s memo did not mention the high-profile scuffle between himself and Douglas, who once served as TSU’s president, which attracted national attention and sharp criticism from free-speech advocates.
In the incident earlier this month, Lane canceled an event with State Rep. Briscoe Cain after the Baytown Republican’s speech was met by protesters at TSU’s Thurgood Marshall School of Law.
The university said it called off the event — promoted as a review of the state Legislature’s special session — because it was not scheduled in accordance with school policy. In a statement, the TSU administration noted that the group is not registered with the university, though its law school said it recognizes the group.
At the time, Douglas said that Daniel Caldwell, the student organizer, told him about the event and registered his group, TSU’s chapter of the Federalist Society, with the law school.
Douglas said Saturday that he believes the law school should be treated like a professional school, distinct from undergraduate operations within TSU. Lane, he said, did not agree.
“The president ought to have someone at the law school who agrees with his management style,” he said.
A TSU spokeswoman declined to comment.
Lane also said in the memo that TSU submitted a plan in response to “concerns” raised by the American Bar Association earlier this year.
Earlier this year, the trade group found that the Thurgood Marshall School of Law did not uphold basic admissions standards by letting in “applicants who do not appear capable of satisfactorily completing its educational program and being admitted to the bar.”
Separately, the group handed down sanctions following reports of sexual harassment and gender discrimination.
Douglas said that he told Lane in his resignation that he would stay on to complete the report to the ABA, which was due in mid-October.
Caldwell said his student group is holding another event Wednesday. The group, he said, has now registered with the university.