Third federal lawsuit filed against Wheelock College and former president
By Evan Lips | September 23, 2016, 19:02 EDT
BOSTON — A third faculty member has filed a federal lawsuit against Wheelock College and its former president, Jackie Jenkins-Scott, alleging she was unfairly treated due to her race.
The allegations facing Wheelock stem from the reign of Jenkins-Scott, who retired last spring. Joan Gallos, like the two professors who also filed complaints and the college, allege that Jenkins-Scott, who is black, gave “preferential treatment of African-American employees of color.”
Gallos also alleges that she was unjustly terminated from her post as vice president of academic affairs, a job she took in 2012. Gallos claims that Jenkins-Scott gave her verbal guarantees prior to accepting the Wheelock position that she would be provided with the autonomy needed to boost the school’s academic climate.
“However, starting midway through her first year at Wheelock, multiple experiences gradually led Dr. Gallos to realize that she had not been hired for her “strong and independent leadership,” as President Jenkins-Scott had represented in recruitment and on hiring, but to affirm the President’s current directions, lend credibility and legitimacy to her chaotic financial operations and discriminatory hiring policies, and keep faculty quiet and in line,” the lawsuit alleges. “Dr. Gallos ultimately concluded that the central quality needed as a Wheelock administrator was extreme loyalty to and unwavering agreement with President Jenkins-Scott, who was straining to cover up rising levels of mismanagement and deep tension with faculty, of which there was a long and well-documented history.”
Gallos claims she now suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and “is currently participating in a Mayo Clinic protocol through the Mayo Mind Body Clinic to combat PTSD.”
Her lawsuit follows similar complaints filed by professors Gail Dines and Eric Silverman, who also claim they were unfairly discriminated against.
Like Dines and Silverman, Gallos claims that “If faculty and administrators of color voiced concerns, they were rewarded with immediate action and praise, while requests from white faculty and staff were ignored, questioned, or postponed.”
Examples of Gallos’ allegations in her 99-page complaint include:
- Being told during a November 2013 meeting with Jenkins-Scott, during a discussion about a staffing search, that “you better not bring me another white dean.”
Jenkins-Scott suggesting that a lack of snacks being provided during a black faculty member’s presentation was “due to the racial bias of Dr. Gallos and the white organizer of the presentation.”
- Jenkins-Scott criticizing Gallos’ hiring practices, specifically her decision to hire a white male to fill a position in the administration — knowing that the candidate had “impeccable” credentials and that the black candidate Jenkins-Scott preferred “had asked for twice the budgeted salary and was later found by the college’s search firm to have falsified his resume.”
- Jenkins-Scott initiating a racial probe after a black faculty member complained that the concerns from other faculty members over falling SAT scores and criticisms over the admission of “underqualified” students were motivated by racism.
“To protect her job, President Jenkins-Scott repeatedly raised false issues of racism about those who reported to her, oversaw her, or questioned her decisions,” the lawsuit claims.
Dines and Silverman, meanwhile, are now taking issue with new Wheelock College President David Chard’s assertion that the school was prepared to participate in mediation efforts to keep the matter out of court.
“He wasn’t there,” Dines said Friday in a phone interview, referring to the fact that Chard did not start his post until after the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission granted the three right-to-sue letters. “The college kept canceling mediation meetings. People should know that.”
In an earlier interview with the New Boston Post, Chard said he was unaware of the drama occurring at Wheelock before taking the job.
“My efforts since arriving has been centered on refocusing the college on what it has to do to move forward and not to rehash or repave what’s happened in the past,” he said at the time.
Reached Friday, Gallos said she “tried very hard to avoid filing this suit.”
“It is painful for me and embarrassing for the college that issues of fair and just treatment which could and should have been resolved long ago are now moving to litigation,” Gallos added.
Gallos also said she the ordeal “continues to take a huge physical and psychological toll” on her and stressed that “the healing can only begin when the disrespect and retaliations stop — so far, they have not.”
In an emailed statement, Silverman said Wheelock “still refuses to take responsibility for its actions” and described Chard’s claim to another media outlet that Wheelock was “fully prepared to participate openly with the investigation” as “not accurate.”
“Let me tell you what really happened — which I know first-hand, unlike Dr. Chard, who was not an employee of the college at the time,” Silverman wrote. “We had agreed to mediation several times, and the college cancelled every time, leaving us no choice.”
Ann Olivarius, senior partner at McAllister Olivarius, the British-based law firm representing Dines, Gallos and Silverman, said the trio “had their reputations and careers nearly ruined by this discrimination and anti-Semitism.”
The lawsuits filed by Dines and Silverman accused Wheelock of discriminating against Jewish faculty members.
“In their own fight against racism and pursuit of diversity they became victims of discrimination themselves, which is a disturbing outcome,” Olivarius added.
Jenkins-Scott could not be reached for comment.
Read a copy of the lawsuit: