Around New England

UConn’s Former “Diversity Officer,” Fined $20K For Improperly Giving Hubby $54K Fellowship, Counter Sues; Claims Racism

March 8, 2019

Charmane Thurmond, an African-American who formerly served as the graduate diversity officer at the University of Connecticut (UConn), has been fined $20,000 by a state ethics board for allegedly improperly awarding a $54,000 fellowship to her husband. In response to the charges against her brought by UConn, Thurmond has filed a lawsuit claiming “racial discrimination” by the university.

According to a story published in the Hartford Courant, the Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board (CEAB), found that Thurmand, who assisted “the graduate school in awarding diversity fellowships,” circumvented standard protocols and gave a fellowship “to her husband he did not apply for and that he was not eligible to receive.” The Courant further reports that Thurmand helped her husband receive “financial gain from the graduate school in excess of $53,000 in tuition waivers, cash stipends, graduate pay assistant and other benefits,” including a “$2,000 fellowship the summer after he graduated.”

The board also found that Thurmond’s husband, Martinus Evans, was hired as a “graduate assistant” but was “not required to do any work.”

The Courant notes that part of Thurmond’s unethical behavior included her directing that “her husband’s academic department contact her with any questions about his or the fellowship’s status.”

According to the Courant, the ethics board concluded Thurmond’s actions violated state law. In addition, the Courant reports that the board has contacted the Connecticut Attorney General’s Office to inform the state’s prosecutors that Evans may also have broken the law. 

Thurmond was initially placed on leave after the school learned of her alleged ethical lapses, but she soon resigned her post, the Courant reports. She then filed a suit against UConn, claiming “racial discrimination” and that the university “conspired against her in retaliation” for her criticism of some of the school’s alleged “discriminatory” policies. The Courant reports that the suit, filed in federal court, claims UConn has a “racist policy of treating individuals with color differently than their white counterparts,” and that UConn officials “colluded” with the [CEAB] in drafting a “retaliatory, racially motivated and baseless ethics complaint.”

The Courant writes that a UConn spokesperson stated that Evans could never have met the fellowship’s eligibility requirements and that the ethics board’s findings were in agreement with the university’s conclusions.

 

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