Tom Keefe, the St. Louis University’s interim law school dean, has announced that he is stepping down from the post due to “politically incorrect” statements he made to the faculty. He also said that he was not a good fit for the position, according to The St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Keefe assumed the post in August. He said that his inappropriate comments, which were a remark about Indians and a comment perceived as sexual harassment, had been misinterpreted. He did say that he was not pressured to resign from the post.
“I have chosen to step down because obviously there have been statements made about things I have done, and in all likelihood I’ve done them all,” Keefe said in an interview Monday. “The problem is I’m just too politically incorrect to be a dean.”
Clayton Berry, a university spokesman, said that the school is closing in on naming a permanent dean. Berry said that a search committee has selected two finalists. The two being interviewed are Michael Wolff, a former Supreme Court judge in Missouri and Anthony Chivetta, a partner from the Armstrong Teasdale law firm.
Keefe was named interim dean the day former dean Annette Clark stepped down. Clark cited disagreements with university president Rev. Lawrence Biondi. Keefe immediately made headlines when he said that he would not be Biondi’s “butt boy.”
“In the beginning I gave an interview and I stuck my foot in my mouth, and I’ve been sticking my foot in my mouth ever since,” Keefe said Monday. “I’m 60 years old and I’m going to say what I’m going to say.”
According to Keefe, one of the comment that got him into trouble was when he said he had gotten “drunker than 10 big Indians.”
“The truth of the matter is that to the extent that folks are after my scalp for saying inappropriate things, chances are the size of my mouth I might as well have said all of them,” he said.
Keefe noted that he does not believe he would intentionally take part in sexual harassment, noting his long marriage. Berry did not say if formal claims of sexual harassment were made against Keefe by any students or faculty. Keefe did say that he and the faculty were “like oil and water,” which was a main reason for him resigning.
“I’m sure there are people in the world of academia who are just mortified at the thought that a plainspoken, politically incorrect, ambulance-chasing attorney from Illinois is their dean,” Keefe said.
Keefe is a member of the school’s board of trustees and expressed his interest in keeping that post.