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Interim SLU Law School Dean Resigns Amid Controversy

James Cridland via Flickr

Updated at 7:26 PM

The interim dean of Saint Louis University's School of Law, Thomas Keefe, has resigned.

Keefe's resignation comes amid speculation that he was being forced to resign over a history of lewd and inappropriate comments.

A trial lawyer from the Metro East, Keefe was tapped to serve as dean by University President, Father Lawrence Biondi, following the protest resignation of former dean Annette Clark.

From the get-go Keefe was a controversial figure, both for his status as a non-faculty member and a current member of the university's board of trustees.

Keefe took over following a very public dispute between Biondi and former Dean Annette Clark.  Clark resigned in protest last August, Keefe was quoted in an interview with Missouri Lawyers Media saying that he “wasn’t Father Biondi’s butt boy."

Here are our reported comments from Keefe when Clark resigned:

The interim dean of the school, Thomas Keefe, says he's not concerned by the working environment. "I guess what bothers or troubles me more than anything about [the letters] is the fact that it suggests that there's more of a concern on her part with a turf war with the president of the university when in point of fact, I would think that what everyone's concern should be about is giving these kids what they paid for," he said. Keefe, a 1978 graduate of the law school, and a personal injury attorney in Belleville, Ill. says it's "not in his DNA" to say no to a Jesuit priest. He says he wants to focus SLU's curriculum on teaching students to be lawyers, "not how to become law students, not how to write learned law journal articles, not how to espouse all kinds of legal theory." He says he's also looking forward to being the first dean to wear shorts and T-shirts in the office.

Keefe says he was not aware of specific allegations against him; however he openly acknowledged that he was probably not well liked.

“I’ve been told that there are things that I’ve said over the last couple of months that are certainly politically incorrect, certainly inappropriate,” says Keefe. "People say 'did you say those things?' And the likelihood is that I probably did.”

“You know, I speak way too candidly, and we live in a society where you just have to keep your mouth shut and wear beige, or if you’re going to speak up you’re probably better off not being in a public position,” notes Keefe.

Sources within the law school say that Professor Mike Wolff is slated to take over as Dean.

The university's communications officer said that earlier reports that Keefe was being let go because of  offensive comments were "untrue."  When asked to clarify whether complaints had been made against Keefe, or if he was being asked to step down, the spokesman declined to specify. 

Further requests for comment were not returned.

Follow Adam Allington on Twitter:  @aallington

Follow Kelsey Proud on Twitter:  @KelseyProud

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