TEXAS, USA — Texas A&M has been sued by a University of Texas at Austin professor over discrimination claims involving a new faculty fellowship program designed to increase diversity at the university. The story was originally reported by the Texas Tribune.
Richard Lowery, a white finance professor at UT-Austin, filed a federal class-action lawsuit on Saturday against the Texas A&M University System, the school's board of regents, and several academic administrators as defendants. He has been a professor at UT-Austin since 2009.
The lawsuit states “Professor Lowery sues on behalf of a class of all white and Asian men who stand ‘able and ready’ to apply for faculty appointments at Texas A&M.”
In the lawsuit, Lowery claims that the new ACES Plus Fellowship that was announced in July violates the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause and Title VI and Title IX of the federal Civil Right Act.
According to the lawsuit, Lowery also accused Texas A&M of setting aside faculty positions specifically for “underrepresented” racial groups, pointing to an August email sent by an unnamed business professor to Shane A. Johnson, the head of the recruiting committee for the department of finance.
Laylan Copelin, a spokesperson for the Texas A&M system, called the legal filing 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.”
According to faculty data from Texas A&M from the Fall 2021 semester, 2,658 out of a total of 4,869 faculty were white, while 180 faculty members were Black and 335 faculty members were Hispanic.
The plaintiff’s lawyers are seeking declaratory and injunctive relief from the court on behalf of Lowery and an appointed court monitor to oversee the university’s diversity office and faculty hiring.