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Texas Professor Sues Over Alleged Discrimination

Education

UT Austin | Image by Shutterstock

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A University of Texas at Austin professor, Richard Lowery, has filed a class action lawsuit against Texas A&M University. The lawsuit claims that a new faculty fellowship program fosters discrimination against white and Asian males, KBTX reported.

“The Accountability, Climate, Equity, and Scholarship Faculty Fellows Program,” or ACES, was announced over the summer. The program focuses on recently graduated doctoral students who want to enter academia, according to KBTX, while the ACES Plus program focuses on “mid-career and senior tenure-track hires from underrepresented minority groups.”

The goal of the program is to move the structural composition of the faculty towards parity with that of the State of Texas. According to Texas A&M, “underrepresented groups” include Native Americans, Native Hawaiians, Alaskan Natives, Hispanic and Latino Americans, and African Americans.

The ACES program will use $2 million over the next two years for the base salary and benefits of fellows.

Lowry, who is white, teaches finance at UT-Austin and, according to KBTX, filed his lawsuit against the Texas A&M University system and the board of regents. Also named in the suit were Texas A&M’s vice president for faculty affairs, N.K. Anand, and Texas A&M’s vice president and associate provost for diversity, Annie McGowan.

America First Legal is representing Lowry. The non-profit organization was created by Jonathan Mitchell and Stephen Miller.

Lowry’s lawsuit claims the ACES program is discriminatory and violates Title VI and Title IX of the Civil Rights Act, in addition to the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment.

The lawsuit states, “Texas A&M’s proclaimed goal of establishing a faculty whose racial composition attains ‘parity with that of the state of Texas’ seeks to achieve racial balancing, which is flatly illegal under Title VI and the binding precedent of the Supreme Court.”

Laylan Copelin, a spokesperson for the Texas A&M system, stated that the university’s lawyers would be looking over the suit.

Copelin said the filing was an “unusual job application when Mr. Lowery says in the lawsuit he is ‘able and ready’ to apply for a faculty appointment at Texas A&M. But our lawyers will review the lawsuit, confer with Texas A&M and take appropriate action as warranted.”

The official website for the ACES program claims that diversity leads to academic success.

“In recognition of Texas A&M University’s Diversity Plan, the ACES Faculty Fellows Program promotes the research, teaching, and scholarship of early career scholars who embrace the belief that diversity is an indispensable component of academic excellence,” the website reads.

It continues, “From this experience at Texas A&M, fellows should develop an understanding of the value of diversity and inclusion and the power that it holds for students, faculty, and staff to enrich their lives.”

Texas A&M announced the ACES program on July 8. ACES faculty fellowships are two years in length, after which the participants transition to a tenure-based track.

Applicants for the program must have completed their Ph.D. degrees within the past four years, but currently, the program is not accepting new applications.

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