The longest serving dean in the Law School's history, W. Page Keeton (1909-1999) was born in the unincorporated community of McCoy, Texas on August 22, 1909. He enrolled at the University of Texas in 1925, when he was sixteen. He was an editor of the Texas Law Review, member of Chancellors, Order of the Coif, and Phi Beta Kappa, and served as president of the law school student body. He graduated first in his class from the School of Law in 1931. After graduation, Keeton spent a year as Judge Robert W. Stayton's research assistant and the business manager of the Texas Law Review before he was appointed to the faculty in 1932.
In 1935, Keeton took a leave of absence from the University to study at Harvard. He earned a Doctor of Juridical Science degree from Harvard Law School in 1936 and returned to the faculty at the University of Texas School of Law. He was appointed assistant dean in 1940. In 1942, during World War II, Keeton left the university to serve as legal counsel for the Fuel Division of the Office of Price Administration. He then became general counsel for the Petroleum Administration for War. After World War II, Keeton returned to Texas, but left soon after to take the deanship at the University of Oklahoma, where he stayed from 1946 until 1949. In 1949, Keeton returned to the University of Texas to serve as dean. Keeton resigned the deanship in 1974, but he continued to teach at the School of Law until 1995.
As dean, Keeton increased funding for the law school through the formation of the University of Texas School of Law Foundation. His tenure also saw the building of Townes Hall. Approved in 1950 and dedicated in 1953, the facility was designed to accommodate 1,000 students and included nearly 85,000 square feet of air-conditioned space. An east wing was added to the building in 1964.
One of the foremost authorities on tort law, Keeton authored Cases on Torts with Warren A. Seavey and Edward S. Thurston in 1950; Cases and Materials on Fraud and Mistake in 1954; Cases and Materials on the Law of Torts with Warren A. Seavey and Robert E. Keeton in 1957, second edition 1964; Federal Regulation of Independent Gas Producers: Developments since the Phillips Decision in 1960; Products and the Consumer: Defective and Dangerous Products with Marshall S. Shapo in 1970; Cases and Materials on the Law of Torts with Robert E. Keeton in 1971, second edition 1977; Compensation Systems: The Search for a Viable Alternative to Negligence Law with Robert E. Keeton in 1971; Products and the Consumer: Deceptive Practices with Marshall S. Shapo in 1972; Products Liability and Safety: Cases and Materials with David G. Owen and John E. Montgomery in 1980, second edition 1989, third edition 1996; Prosser and Keeton on Torts in 1984; and Cases and Materials on Tort and Accident Law in 1989.
Keeton served as president of the Association of American Law Schools, chair of the Council of Legal Education Opportunity, and received the Torch of Liberty Award from the Anti-Defamation League. He was a member of the Tejas Club and Texas Cowboys.