HBCU Harris-Stowe State University Must Pay White Professor Nearly $5 Million For Racial Discrimination
A state appeals court upheld a jury verdict of nearly $5 million – three-quarters of that punitive damages – against HBCU Harris-Stowe State University for discriminating against a white employee. It appears the icing on the cake was the deletion of incriminating emails from the senior official who targeted the white employee.
Beverly Wilkins, worked at Missouri’s Harris-Stowe State University for eight years receiving “excellent reviews during her time there. However, she was terminated without a full explanation as to why.
SO WHAT HAPPEN?
Well, The College Fix reported Latisha Smith was temporarily made co-chair of the department, “a faculty member” complained to top university officials that Smith had “repeatedly proclaimed her belief in ‘black power’” and her “flagrant prejudice should not be tolerated or accepted.” One of those officials told the complainer to drop it or any chance at tenure “would be jeopardized.”
Smith was later made dean, becoming Wilkins’ supervisor, and she apparently exacted her revenge by putting Wilkins’ name on a termination list as part of a budget-neutral “reorganization” that saw two faculty members dumped and their positions rehired later.
Harris-Stowe is required by its own policies to terminate non-adjunct instructors with less seniority – two of which, both African Americans, had less than Wilkins – yet the university refused to tell her why she was dumped. Despite acknowledging that Wilkins had accused them of race discrimination, the university never investigated her claims, which also violated its own rules.
“In this period of budget cutting” when Harris-Stowe was trying to plug a fiscal hole, it quickly hired two black professors to replace Wilkins, costing the school an extra $23,000. One was explicitly described as “black” in an official’s email proposing her for the position.
The appeals court denied every objection. It strongly rebuked the university for calling Wilkins’ evidence of continuing emotional suffering “sparse” and claiming she could have gotten another education job, despite how the school sabotaged her employment prospects.
The school said it was still reviewing the ruling. Read the ruling
Will Missouri’s Harris-Stowe State University be able to recover from this financial hit? Do you agree with the ruling? What should the school have done? Where did the Leadership first go wrong? Was Leadership wrong for wanting to offer their HBCU students, black teachers? Should they be in pursuit of the best teachers?
Share your thoughts?
CampusLATELY Staff531 Posts
CampusLATELY features national content on Campus Life, Style, College News, Entertainment, Relationships, Health & Fitness, and Career Development, written entirely by top college journalists from 30+ college/universities nationwide.