On Monday, Tom Keefe Jr., who had accepted an offer on August 8 to serve as dean of the Saint Louis University School of Law, addressed a letter to students announcing that he would donate back his salary to the law school. The Belleville trial lawyer accepted the offer for the post of dean of the law school after the previous dean, Annette Clark, resigned over differences with the law school administration.
Keefe’s entire family, including his father, four brothers, and two children has attended the SLU’s School of Law. His current support to the law school includes two endowed professorships and one scholarship. Several of his other relatives including nieces and nephews have graduated from the law school. Though Keefe did not disclose the amount of the salary and donation, the median dean salary for law schools in 2010 was $278,454 according to the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources.
In the letter to students and faculty, Keefe wrote, “My wife, Rita, is my closest confidant who proves to me every day that women are smarter than men … We have agreed to do this job for free. My salary will be donated to our school. I am open to suggestions where.” However, in an interview with Business Journal Keefe expressed that he wishes the money to go toward benefiting the students or the law school’s free legal clinics.
Keefe mentioned the challenges faced by law students across the country and at SLU over the payment of student-debts and the lack of high-paying jobs for all law school graduates. He said, “These kids are coming out, and they’ve got good hearts, but they owe a lot of dough.”
He put things proper in the letter: “It’s too expensive to get a legal education, and it’s too hard to find a job to pay for that education. I get that. I wish I could hire every one of you. We cannot guarantee jobs, but we can work hard to make each of you employable and marketable.”
Keefe would be serving as interim dean, while this fall, the SLU’s vice president for academic affairs will lead a national search for a new law school dean.