The following are some recent news items that relate to:

  1. Gender, Race and Affirmative Action
  2. Presidential Searches and the Michigan Open Meetings Act
  3. Tenure Issues
  4. Other Issues of Potential Interest to Faculty


Gender, Race and Affirmative Action

DISCRIMINATION BASED ON RACE is a major allegation in separate law suits filed by four former University of Michigan faculty members against individual University of Michigan administrators and the University's Board of Regents. (Click here to see an article on three cases that appeared in The Chronicle of Higher Education for the week ending September 12, 1997.) In mid-March of the current year a fourth case was filed in Washtenaw County Circuit Court. (Click here to see an article on a fourth case that appeared in The Chronicle of Higher Education for the week ending May 1, 1998. Click here for a statistical comment on this article.) In two of the earlier cases, the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor AAUP Chapter has decided to file amicus briefs on behalf of the litigants.

For the second time in nine months, an African-American assistant professor at the University of Michigan has sued the school for denying tenure based on race. N. Frank Ukladike filed the lawsuit late last month in Washtenaw County Circuit Court. The suit also names Gaylyn Studlar, director of the film and video studies department, and Aharon Patton, director of the Center for Afroamerican and African studies. Ukadike...cites alleged irregularities in the tenure review process used by the university in his case from 1995-97. He claims Studlar and Patton worked to undermine his tenure approval because he is black....Like former U-M business school assistant professor Ojelanki K. Ngwenyama, who sued the university on a nearly identical compalin last July, Ukadike has created a web page to publicize his case. (The Ann Arbor News - April 9, 1998)

After being denied tenure, an assistant professor at the University of Michigan has taken the unusual step of creating a web page outlining details of a discrimination suit he's filed against the U-M School of Business. Ojelanki K. Ngwenyama alleges that racial bias is the sole reason he was denied a tenured position and says the business school has engaged in a long-standing pattern of discrimination against African-American faculty. In the complaint filed last week in Washtenaw County Circuit Court and documented on a web site, Ngwenyama maintains that the U-M business school has granted tenure to only one black faculty member since it was founded in 1923. The first African-American faculty member was hired - with tenure - in 1974, while the second was granted tenure in 1995. (The Ann Arbor News - July 29, 1997)

A former University of Michigan assistant research scientist has sued the university and a former provost for retaliating against her after information was obtained from her grievance, which contained her claims race and gender discrimination in the pharmacology department. Peggie J. Hollingsworth names the U-M and Gilbert R. Whitaker, former provost and executive vice president for academic affairs as defendants in her lawsuit. ...In 1994, former provost Gilbert R. Whitaker was accused by U-M faculty's Senate Assembly of interfering with the grievance proceedings of Hollingsworth and Thomas Landefeld, an associate professor of pharmacology, who also complained about racism within the department....The assembly's executive committee, the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs, demanded an apology from Whitaker for his "potential and actual interference" in the grievance process. In May 1994, Whitaker said he would not apologize. (The Ann Arbor News - May 8, 1997)

Former Prof. Thomas Landefeld has filed suit against the University, claiming retaliation for publicly speaking out against a "racist environment" in the Medical School. "The complaint really is relative to the retaliation that I feel I have received about speaking out about the lack of recognition that minority students were receiving," Landefeld said. "The main action is to make it visible (to the Medical School) that changes have to be made."...During his 20 years at the University, Landefeld was a tenured associate professor in the pharmacology department, an assistant dean for minority student affairs and an assistant dean for research and graduate affairs. Landefeld continually raised issues about the racial environment in the entire University, as well as specifically in the Medical School. (The Michigan Daily - January 16, 1997)

A former University professor is asking for more than $10,000 in a lawsuit that alleges that he was mistreated after speaking out against a "racist" atmosphere at the School of Medicine. Former pharmacology Prof. Thomas Landefeld outlined seven retaliatory actions the University took against him in the suit. (The Michigan Daily - January 17, 1997)

"One day is not enough" was the message conveyed yesterday - the day after the University's celebration honoring Martin Luther King Jr. A coalition of University students from several multicultural groups joined together to express their dissatisfaction with the short-term effects of the MLK Day symposium....Organizers of the "Day Without Diversity" said they were concerned that the annual MLK Day symposium has become a masquerade for continued discrimination against communities of color at the University. Organizers claim that the symposium is simply a politically correct celebration of diversity, but fails to honor the activism of Martin Luther King Jr. himself. (The Michigan Daily - January 22, 1997)

THE NUMBER OF BLACK male students enrolled at historically black colleges has slipped by almost 3 per cent since last year, the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education announced Wednesday. (The Chronicle of Higher Education for Thursday, April 10, 1997)

THE NUMBER OF MINORITY STUDENTS offered admission to the University of Texas at Austin's law school plummeted this year, university officials said Wednesday. The plunge was particularly marked among black students, who saw their number drop from 65 last year to just 5 this year. Officials blamed the decline on a 1996 court decision that banned affirmative action at the university. (The Chronicle of Higher Education for Thursday, April 10, 1997)

ALMOST TWO-THIRDS of faculty members in the United States say that they do not support the use of preferences based on race, sex, or ethnicity in college admissions or hiring decisions, according to a survey released today. The survey was commissioned by the National Association of Scholars, an academic organization that opposes affirmative action. (The Chronicle of Higher Education for Wednesday, November 20, 1996)

A FEDERAL JUDGE has ordered the University of California system to halt any measures taken to comply with a new state constitutional amendment banning affirmative-action programs. (The Chronicle of Higher Education for Monday, December 9, 1996).

THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION decided Wednesday not to intervene in the legal dispute over California's new constitutional amendment prohibiting affirmative action by state agencies -- at least right now. (The Chronicle of Higher Education for Thursday, December 12, 1996)

A U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE has extended by one week an order that prohibits public colleges and universities in California -- including the University of California and California State University systems -- from immediately ending their affirmative-action programs. (The Chronicle of Higher Education for Thursday, December 19, 1996)

The wage gap between minority and white people.

Researchers have predicted that as more black and Hispanic youths graduated from high school and college and got jobs, the gap between their wages and those of their white peers would close. But in California, where voters last fall approved a controversial measure ending affirmative action at state institutions, that has not been the case. In an article entitled "Are Black Diplomas Worth Less?," Martin Carnoy, a professor of education and economics at Stanford University, and Richard Rothstein, a research associate at the Economic Policy Institute, note that the wage disparity between young minority and young white people in California grew between 1980 and 1995, despite a steady improvement in minority students' educational attainments. The authors concede that "the mere existence of a widening wage gap, even in the face of a shrinking educational gap, does not by itself prove discrimination." However, they write that the data support the need for some steps to reduce the wage gap. "There may be other -- or better -- solutions than affirmative action," they conclude, "but affirmative action is one way to push wages in the direction of being more consistently and rationally related to workers' qualifications." (January-February issue of The American Prospect)

THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA SYSTEM has received a record high number of applications for admission for next fall, but the number of minority applicants has plummeted, according to statistics released Tuesday. (The Chronicle of Higher Education for Wednesday, February 5, 1997)

The University was found guilty of discrimination yesterday after a week-long civil suit alleging racism, but jurors ruled that Dental School supervisor Linda Vachon DeMarco was not guilty. Plaintiffs Delano Isabell, Dawn Mitchell and Theresa Atkins - three black former Dental School employees - contended they were fired from the University in 1995 because of their race. After two days of deliberating, jurors emerged yesterday afternoon to unanimously order the University to pay the plaintiffs a total of $360,000 in lost earnings and to compensate for pain and suffering. (The Michigan Daily - February 5, 1997)

TEXAS'S ATTORNEY GENERAL issued an opinion Wednesday that ordered public colleges in the state to stop considering race in all institutional policies. Dan Morales left only one door open to affirmative action: Some privately donated, race-based scholarships might be legal. (The Chronicle of Higher Education for Friday, February 7, 1997)

The Michigan Court of Appeals upheld a decision against the University and two professors in the case of Carolyn Phinney, a former research associate who accused one colleague of stealing her research and another of retaliation. On April 4, the court awarded her an additional $250,000 as interest due on damages she was awarded in the Washtenaw County Circuit Court in 1993. The additional money changes her award total from $1.5 million to $1.75 million. (The Michigan Daily April 11, 1997)

The University's incoming class may be more ethnically homogeneous than last year's class if the current trend in minority applications remains steady. Provost J. Bernard Machen announced yesterday to the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs that the number of minority applications has dropped significantly since last year - a decrease of about 15 percent, according to Ted Spencer, the University's director of admissions....Spencer said the largest decline has been in the number of African American students applying to LSA - down 16-17 percent. (The Michigan Daily - February 11, 1997)

Department of Public Safety officers report that they used chemical spray to stop a fight that started in the Michigan Union early Saturday morning after a fraternity dance. "At approximately 12:45 (a.m.) Saturday a fight occurred at an (Omega Psi Phi) fraternity dance in the Union," said DPS spokesperson Elizabeth Hall. "The fight escalated and U of M Department of Public Safety officers intervened, taking necessary action to insure the safety of the 600 people attending the event."... The fraternity is a member of the Black Greek Association. (The Michigan Daily - February 10, 1997)

University English Prof. Emily Cloyd filed suit against the University earlier this month, claiming her rights were violated when she was forced into medical leave in the spring of 1995. "I am shocked. I'm outraged. My tenure was violated. My academic freedom was violated," said Cloyd, who is 66 years old. The lawsuit alleges that Cloyd's rights were violated under the American Disabilities Act. She is claiming that she was placed on medical leave without her consent after she had requested additional accommodations for a back disability in March 1995. Cloyd is bringing complaints in the amount of $50,000 against the University, the University Board of Regents, English Department Chair Martha Vicinus, and former LSA associate dean John Chamberlin. (The Michigan Daily - February 21, 1997)


Presidential Searches and the Michigan Open Meetings Act

Mounting bills for last fall's presidential search grew even higher yesterday after LANSING - The 1993 selection process that made M. Peter McPherson the new president of Michigan State University violated the state's open meetings law, the Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled Tuesday. The Lansing State Journal and The Detroit News filed suit against the university during the process, which began after former President John DiBiaggio resigned in the summer of 1992. McPherson was selected president on Aug. 17, 1993, by the MSU Board of Trustees. The newspapers had alleged the school violated the state's Open Meetings Act because its 13-member search committee met in private to interview candidates and select finalists. (The Michigan Daily - January 16, 1997)

Washtenaw County Circuit Court Judge Melinda Morris rescinded a decision that previously favored the University. Morris ordered the University to pay the $27,495 in the plaintiff's attorney fees accrued in a lawsuit initiated by The Ann Arbor News, Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News last October. (The Michigan Daily - February 6, 1997)

Five months prior to former University President James Duderstadt's resignation in September 1995, the Board of Regents paid attorneys $136,309.32 for advice about conducting future presidential searches that would comply with the state's Open Meetings Act. (The Michigan Daily - February 20, 1997)

Tenure Issues

JEAN B. KEFFELER, the University of Minnesota regent who infuriated faculty members by leading an effort to change the university's tenure code, announced Friday that she will resign from her position effective December 1. (The Chronicle of Higher Education for Monday, November 4, 1996)

FACULTY MEMBERS at the University of Minnesota narrowly rejected a proposal Wednesday that they form a union. The vote followed months of tension between the faculty and the Board of Regents over the issue of tenure. (The Chronicle of Higher Education for Thursday, February 13, 1997)

Other Items of Potential Interest to Faculty

A FEDERAL APPEALS COURT has decided to wipe out the October ruling of a three-judge panel that the University of Minnesota at Duluth did not violate the free-speech rights of two professors. The full court voted last week to hear the case, which pits a university's need to keep order against faculty members' right to free expression. (The Chronicle of Higher Education for Monday, December 9, 1996)

THE UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA announced Monday that it was suing the federal government to counter a lawsuit that the U.S. Justice Department plans to file against the institution this week for misuse of federal funds. More than $100-million is at stake, university officials said. The legal tangle is the latest chapter in a case stemming from charges of misconduct leveled at John Najarian, a transplant surgeon who once brought fame -- and considerable fortune -- to the university. (The Chronicle of Higher Education for Tuesday, December 17, 1996.

A FEDERAL APPEALS COURT last week overturned a $1.6-million judgment against the University of Alabama at Birmingham and four of its scientists who had been accused of stealing another researcher's work and using it to win federal grants. This is the second time that a federal court has rejected the use of a federal anti-fraud law to obtain payments from universities for alleged misconduct by their professors. (The Chronicle of Higher Education for Monday, January 27, 1997)

THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT announced Monday that it would pay teaching hospitals in the State of New York not to train medical residents. The pilot project is aimed at reducing the growing number of surplus physicians in the country. (The Chronicle of Higher Education for Wednesday, February 19, 1997).

Return to Home Page.