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    Posted April 22, 2011 by
    Durant, Oklahoma

    Discrimination @ SOSU Durant, OK

    My friend and colleague, Rachel Tudor, has been denied  tenure at our   university and informed that her employment will be  terminated   effective May 31, 2011.  We have compelling evidence that  this denial   and dismissal are due to discrimination against her for  being  transgender. In a mess that has gone on for nearly two  years, the   administration at our university has repeatedly and  egregiously violated   established policies and procedures.  The Faculty  Appeals Committee  has  found in favor of Rachel twice, and the Faculty  Senate has passed a   resolution in support of her.  Meanwhile, the VP  for Academic Affairs   and the President arbitrarily re-wrote the  Academic Policies and   Procedures manual in the midst of the process,  in order to allow the VP   for Business Affairs (!) to overrule the  decision of the Faculty  Appeals  Committee.   I also encourage you all  to visit her blog to learn more  about her and her situation: http://rachel-s-friends.blogspot.com/2011/04/southeastern-oklahoma-state-university.html.   There you will find contact information for the Oklahoma Board of  Regents; please write and request that Rachel be reinstated.      Statement of Facts   Dr. Rachel Tudor has been employed as an assistant  professor of English, humanities, and languages for the past seven years  at Southeastern Oklahoma State University (“SOSU”).  She currently  serves on the Faculty Senate, Faculty Personnel Policies Committee, and  enjoys consistent enrollment (and in many instances re-enrollment) in  the courses which she offers.  Dr. Tudor has published at least 10  academic articles and is well regarded by her students and colleagues.     Dr. Tudor is a transgendered female who formally transitioned in 2007.   After transitioning, Dr. Tudor was instructed by SOSU’s human resource  department to only use a single-stall handicap bathroom on a different  floor than where her office is located.  She presumes the direction came  from Dr. Douglas McMillan, the vice president of academic affairs, who  reportedly had also inquired whether Dr. Tudor could be terminated  because her lifestyle “offends his Baptist beliefs.”  Human resources  denied his request to terminate her but did direct Dr. Tudor to use the  separate bathroom facility.   Assistant professors at SOSU are given  seven years in which to obtain tenure, with the initial probationary  period ending after five years. It is not uncommon at SOSU for  applicants to pursue more than one application before being granted  tenure.  Dr. Tudor knows of two examples of active professors at SOSU  who pursued multiple applications before obtaining tenure including the  current chair of the Faculty Senate’s Personnel Policy Committee.     Applications for tenure are considered and voted on by a faculty  committee.  When Dr. Tudor applied for tenure in 2009 she was  recommended by the Tenure Review Committee by a vote of 4-1,  subsequently her department chair also recommended her for tenure and  promotion.  However, the dean and the vice president of academic affairs  disregarded the committee’s recommendation and denied tenure, but  refused to provide any explanation for the denial.  The dean regularly  refers to Dr. Tudor by the incorrect pronoun (i.e. “him”) although the  dean is well aware that Dr. Tudor is female.  Dr. Tudor filed an appeal  with the Faculty Appellate Committee claiming that the dean’s and Dr.  McMillan’s office did not provide her due process in explaining why  tenure was denied.  The Faculty Appellate Committee found in favor of  Dr. Tudor, and directed the administration to provide Dr. Tudor with the  reason(s) for its denial of tenure. SOSU’s administration determined  that the appellate committee’s ruling was merely a recommendation and  was not required to comply.    Dr. Tudor planned to re-apply for tenure  in the 2010.  However, before the application period began she received a  memo from Dr. Doug McMillan stating that she would not be permitted to  apply for tenure, alleging that Dr. Tudor’s application would “inflame  the relationship between the administration and the faculty.” However,  the timing of the memo immediately after SOSU was informed that Dr.  Tudor had filed a discrimination complaint with the US Dept of Education  suggests retaliation was the true cause of the administration’s action.   Dr. Tudor is not aware of any other case in which an otherwise  eligible professor has been forbidden to reapply for tenure. Dr. Tudor  filed another grievance with the Faculty Appellate Committee, which  again found in her favor. The decision was presented to the president’s  designee, Mr. Ross Walkup. The president’s designee did not concur with  the Faculty Appellate Committee’s decision, and Dr. Tudor appealed to  the president of the university, Dr. Larry Minks.  At the time of the  filing of Dr. Tudor’s grievance the policy of SOSU provided that the  Faculty Appellate Committee’s recommendation be given to the president’s  designee who would in turn relay the recommendation directly to the  president.  However, the president’s designee, Ross Walkup, an employee  in the university’s business office, refused to affirm the  recommendation of the Faculty Appellate Committee. The administration  amended the grievance policies to permit the president’s designee to  issue his own separate recommendation to the president.  Meanwhile, the  Faculty Senate passed a resolution, without a single opposing vote,  calling on the president to allow Dr. Tudor to apply for tenure.   Eventually, the president issued a letter to Dr. Tudor denying her  appeal citing, inter alia, a supposed lack of precedence for professors  reapplying for tenure after denial (a fact readily regarded as untrue).    Dr. Tudor has exhausted her remedies at the university level.  There is  no other appellate process or avenue to pursue her grievance.  Complaints are pending with the US Equal Employment Opportunity  Commission and the Oklahoma Human Rights Commission.      Dr. Tudor’s  contract with SOSU, and therefore her employment, is scheduled to expire  on May 31, 2011.   #avg_ls_inline_popup{position:  absolute;z-index: 9999;padding: 0px 0px;margin-left: 0px;margin-top:  0px;overflow: hidden;word-wrap: break-word;color: black;font-size:  10px;text-align: left;line-height: 130%;}
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