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A professor at Texas Tech University School of Law who claims she was passed over as a candidate for interim dean because she is a woman filed a suit against the university earlier this month alleging a pattern of discrimination at the university, failure to follow procedures and intolerance of dissent. “What I am really after is to challenge the pattern of discrimination,” plaintiff Daisy Hurst Floyd says in an interview. “It includes, I think, this sort of lack of integrity between announced processes — processes as they actually happen. I’m very concerned about the intolerance of dissent, the chilling effect the university has on people who speak out about discrimination.” Floyd alleges in the petition that after longtime Dean W. Frank Newton announced in November 2001 that he was leaving the law school, she was a candidate for interim dean. But she alleges the university did not follow its process for selecting the interim dean and selected a male professor for the position, without legitimately considering her as a candidate even though she had served as associate dean for academic affairs for more than five years. She also alleges that then-Provost John Burns recommended, and then-President David Schmidly appointed, Walter Huffman as the law school’s new dean, although he was not the first-ranked candidate of a search committee on which Floyd served. Floyd, a law school professor at Texas Tech since 1990, also alleges in her petition filed on May 2 that she is paid less than her similarly qualified male colleagues, and that appointments of provost, vice presidents, interim deans and deans have gone disproportionately to white males. Floyd says she wants the university to examine its conduct with regard to patterns of discrimination, and in its responses to claims of discrimination. University general counsel D. Pat Campbell says the university investigated Floyd’s complaints. “Had we found any evidence of discrimination … we would have been morally and ethically and certainly legally required to act immediately — and we would have,” he says. He also contends the university does not hinder free speech. “There is not a method that any university could [use to] stifle free speech. It’s against the law, to boot. Professor Floyd has made allegation upon allegation upon allegation, and there has been no stifling of her ability to complain,” Campbell says. Floyd’s dispute with the university has become a raging controversy at Texas Tech over whether women and minorities can get fair treatment. She remains a tenured professor at the university, although she resigned in December 2001 as associate dean. She alleges in her petition that she was constructively discharged from the associate dean position. Floyd, 47, filed a complaint with the Texas Commission on Human Rights, but she and her attorney, Mark Perlmutter of Austin, say the university’s response to her concerns left her no option but to file suit in state court. “It’s been ongoing, an overall institutional culture, and my individual story is an illustration of that,” she says. She seeks unspecified monetary damages in Daisy Hurst Floyd v. Texas Tech University, et al., which she filed in the 237th District Court in Lubbock County. Dean Huffman refers comment about the suit to Campbell. Campbell says the Texas Office of the Attorney General will defend the university. Perlmutter, a partner in Austin’s Perlmutter & Schuelke, says he met in March with Campbell in an attempt to stave off the suit by resolving Floyd’s claims, but the talks ultimately were unsuccessful. “We reached a tentative agreement on a framework on which to discuss settlement,” Perlmutter says. “Mine agreed to it and his didn’t.” “We met. We took a legitimate shot at it. It did not work,” Campbell says. PROPER PROCEDURE As alleged in her petition, Floyd is suing the university to challenge discrimination, a lack of integrity between stated and actual processes, and intolerance of dissent. “Such conduct has harmed Plaintiff and others and prevents the university from fulfilling its educational missions to all the people of Texas,” Floyd writes in the plaintiffs’ original petition. Floyd alleges that Newton told her in November 2001, after he met with Schmidly to discuss matters relating to a new dean at the law school, that sexism would prevent her from being appointed interim dean and that Schmidly used a crude term when telling Newton he would not appoint a woman as dean. Schmidly denies that he used the term. Newton, now executive director of the Beaumont Foundation, did not return a phone call seeking comment before presstime on May 15. But he said in an affidavit in October 2002 that he was startled by Schmidly’s comment, but given the president’s actions in support of diversity, took no action except to inform Floyd. Floyd alleges in the petition that Newton told law school faculty that Schmidly used the word “c**t” to refer to women. Campbell says Schmidly told a university investigator he did not make the remark. Floyd also alleges that another professor was appointed interim dean and that she was not interviewed for the job, even though Burns told the law school faculty in November that he would interview candidates for the job. As alleged in the petition, Burns later sent a letter of apology to Floyd saying he regrets that he cannot tell her why he failed to follow the process. Burns told Texas Lawyer in November 2002 that it was not until after he recommended another professor as interim dean that he saw an e-mail from Floyd saying she was interested in the job. Neither Burns, now associate vice president for undergraduate research, nor Schmidly, now president of Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, returned a phone call seeking comment before press time. She also alleges that the university improperly cut her pay beginning in January 2002, apparently because of her resignation as associate dean, and did not restore it until June 2002. She alleges that occurred, at least in part, due to discrimination. Campbell says the pay problem was a glitch that was corrected. Floyd also alleges that the dean candidate recommended by the search committee was not appointed because she supported the candidate. “Allowing the dean appointment to be affected by such concerns is direct retaliation against plaintiff in that it disenfranchised her from her role in the search committee,” Floyd writes in the petition. Floyd further alleges that the search committee, which also included three other tenured professors of the law school, an alumni and a student, complained to university officials about the events surrounding the dean appointment, but no one has responded. Campbell says the university is not obligated to follow a search committee’s recommendation.

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