TSU’s in­terim law school dean steps down after event can­celed

In­ci­dent in­volved a con­ser­va­tive Texas law­maker

Houston Chronicle Sunday - - CITY | STATE - By Lind­say El­lis lind­say.el­lis@chron.com twit­ter.com/lind­sayael­lis

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.

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