Texas A&M University’s $2 million diversity hiring initiative sparks a lawsuit

Richard Lowery filed suit with America First Legal Foundation 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.’

Texas A&M University announced in an email an initiative to hire more 'unrepresented minority groups' for faculty positions in light of the school’s newly-minted status as a Hispanic Serving Institution.

Texas A&M University's (TAMU) 2 million dollar diversity hiring initiative is being challenged by a lawsuit from Richard Lowery, an associate professor of finance at the University of Texas at Austin (UTA). The lawsuit alleges the initiative prevents White and Asian men from being hired for faculty positions. 

Lowery filed suit with America First Legal Foundation on Sept. 10 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.”

The lawsuit argues the university’s Accountability Climate Equity, and Scholarship Faculty Fellows Program's (ACES) initiative is in direct conflict with Title VI.

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“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,” the lawsuit states. 

TAMU announced the initiative in a July 8 email to university staff and faculty. The program was styled as an effort to hire more “unrepresented minority groups” for faculty positions in light of the school’s newly-minted status as a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) in July 2021.

“The presence of faculty of color is also integral to the University’s mission to provide the highest quality of undergraduate and graduate education and develop new understandings through research and creativity,” the email read. “As an HSI, Texas A&M is charged with expanding the capacity of low-income, first-generation Hispanic students, and other underserved students and their communities.” 

The Department of Education defines an HSI as an “eligible institution” whose enrollment comprises at least 25 percent, of full-time Hispanic students. Yet, the DOEd does not require HSIs to have a specific diversity quota for faculty.

The email further clarified that “[t]he funds will be used…for new mid-career and senior tenure-track hires from underrepresented minority groups, that contribute to moving the structural composition of our faculty towards parity with that of the State of Texas.”

The lawsuit also states that a separate TAMU faculty member reached out to Shane Johnson, the head of the recruiting committee for the department of finance at TAMU’s business school, asking if “one of our [faculty] lines is reserved for an ‘underrepresented minority.”

Johnson replied, “The underrepresented line would potentially be a third position, so yes reserved, but not one of our “regular” positions,” according to the lawsuit. 

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Lowery argues that he is “able and ready” to apply for one of these positions but “the racial preferences and set-asides established by Texas A&M prevent [Lowery] from competing with other applicants for these faculty positions on an equal basis.”

Lowery asked that the court “permanently enjoin the Texas A&M University system from considering race or sex in the appointment, promotion, or compensation of its faculty,” as well as appoint court monitors to “ensure that it does not aid or abet violations of the nation’s civil-rights laws.”

Campus Reform reached out to every person and university mentioned. This article will be updated accordingly.

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