Richard Lowery is making a quite a name for himself — thanks to seemingly limitless funding with which to bring high-profile lawsuits.
About six months after he first made headlines for a highly publicized and politicized legal broadside, the tenured University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business finance professor is at it again, suing three officials at the B-school — including Dean Lilian Mills — for alleged retaliation for his outspoken conservative beliefs.
Lowery, a senior scholar at McCombs’ Salem Center for Policy, says in a lawsuit filed in federal court this month that his academic freedom and job status were threatened because of his public criticism of the university’s diversity policies.
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Last fall, Lowery, who is White, sued the Texas A&M University System for alleged discrimination against White and Asian-American teaching candidates, saying its faculty fellowship program for African Americans, Hispanic and Latino Americans, Native Americans, Alaskan Natives, and Native Hawaiians violates federal law. The lawsuit drew heavy media attention, particularly in right-wing media, in large part because it was supported by a group founded by Stephen Miller, former speechwriter and adviser for President Donald Trump and widely acknowledged architect of the Trump administration’s immigration policies.
Miller is well-known to the world of graduate business education as the prime mover behind the Trump administration’s restrictions of the H-1B visa program, which has long been viewed by B-schools as vital to the pipeline of talent coming to the U.S.
Lowery’s new lawsuit is less ambitious but no less designed to draw attention. Suing for attorney’s fees and guarantees of academic freedom, he says his criticism of UT diversity policies led to threats to his job. Besides Dean Lilian Mills, Lowery’s new lawsuit names Ethan Burris, senior associate dean for academic affairs, and Sheridan Titman, chair of the finance department, as defendants.
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Lowery has in past called UT’s use of affirmative action in admissions policy “vile” and “racist” and its use of DEI grants as the “diversion of state resources to political advocacy,” according to media reports. He has also criticized UT for “critical-race theory indoctrination,” and criticized the B-school’s Leadership in Global Sustainability minor.
In August, Lowery made his Twitter account private, allegedly in response to threats.
“Professor Lowery dissents from the political and academic views that are held by the majority of his peers and superiors at UT, often publicly, and sometimes uses pointed terminology to get his points across,” says his federal lawsuit, filed Wednesday. “He also does not shy from making his opinions known to elected officials in Texas, including those who oversee funding for UT.”
Lowery’s suit asks the court to bar the defendants “from threatening Lowery for protected speech, or from implementing those threats,” including barring them from reducing his pay, “labeling his criticism as violent or uncivil,” or “asking any police agency to surveil Lowery’s speech.” Read more about the lawsuit here.
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