Professor and newly-appointed Law School Dean Lawrence Sager was featured in the below article that ran in the June 7 issue of The Daily Texan. The article, entitled 'We're bursting at our seams': New School of Law dean faces lack of space for expansion, was written by Stephanie Matlock.
Recently-appointed School of Law Dean Lawrence Sager faces some prominent challenges including maintaining and attracting new and distinguished faculty, strengthening ties with alumni, and finding space for expanding programs.
Sager—who was recently appointed as the new law school dean and will take over for Interim Dean Steven Goode on Sept. 1—praised the law school and expressed his excitement over his appointment.
"I think no really terrific dean wants just to maintain an institution," Sager said. "You always want to think that you're in the position to move the institution ahead, and that means you care not just about how things are but how they can be."
Sager faces the growing need for more space as more and more programs develop,
he said. "We're bursting at our seams."
Expanding programs, such as a possible law program in conjunction with the LBJ School of Public Affairs, are part of Sager's plans as dean, he added.
Getting a head start, Sager has already jumped into taking initiatives and making plans for the law school. He has already made two important appointments: Mechele Dickerson as associate dean of Academic Affairs and Mark Ascher as chairman of the Appointments Committee.
"I think the UT law school is a terrific institution that obviously has remarkable success already," Sager said. "It's both an honor and a challenge to take the helm of an institution like that."
Sager, who turned down a possible deanship at the University of Southern California's law school around the time his name was pushed forward for the position here at the University, said the timing and place for this career move was perfect at this point of his life, in which his scholarly projects are at a mature stage.
"I began to consider the possibility of letting my name go forward as dean," Sager said. "That meant talking to some of my colleagues. It meant talking to one of my colleagues in particular—my wife Jane Cohen, who is also on the faculty—and her initial reaction was a balanced 'over my dead body' reaction."
The idea of being a dean had interested Sager for a while, and he praised the position of high executives in academic settings.
"There's a sort of paternal instinct that emerges," Sager said. "You want to be sort of the father or the mother of this remarkable intellectual family."
Life in the big city—Sager previously lived in New York City while on New York University's faculty—is very different than the lifestyle of a place such as Austin, Sager said.
"Smaller cities that are sort of human-scale and have sort of distinct, quirky and attractive personalities are very appealing," Sager said. "I certainly like the fact that you can be on or near a lake and within easy commuting distance of downtown. I like the fact that it's a place that's just bursting with creative energy."
The benefits of a University town play a part in Sager's plans.
"I care a lot about UT," Sager said. "It's clear to me that this is going to be Jane and mine's academic home for the foreseeable future, and that made it important to do what I could to make it a happy and successful place."
About Lawrence Sager: http://www.utexas.edu/law/faculty/sagerl/
Lawrence Sager Appointed as Dean of UT Austin School of Law: http://www.utexas.edu/law/news/2006/051006_dean.html