Former dean says Mizzou fired her for questioning racial quotas

A former dean is suing the University of Missouri School of Medicine for wrongful termination, alleging that she was fired because of her race and skepticism of certain diversity initiatives.

Dr. Rachel Brown, former associate dean of recruitment, admission, and student life at MU’s medical school, filed a lawsuit against her former employer on December 18 in which she claims that race was a “contributing factor” in her termination.

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After Mizzou’s infamous 2015 protests, followed by a 2016 accreditation review that “found deficiencies” in the School of Medicine’s diversity practices, Brown recommended that it seek “external consultation about the issues of diversity and inclusion.”

According her lawsuit, she argued at the time that “the diversity initiatives at the School of Medicine were fragmented and misaligned,” suggesting that “the single-minded pursuit of racial and ethnic minority applicants” posed both legal risks and moral problems.

Then, in spring 2016, Brown “became increasingly concerned that she was being excluded from important conversations regarding diversity and admissions,” observing that Dean of the School of Medicine Dr. Patrice “Patrick” Delafontaine, a South African, was increasingly ignoring her communications regarding the responsibilities of her office.

For instance, Brown asserts that Delafontaine invited Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion Dr. Warren Lockette and Dr. Laine M. Young-Walker, two African-American faculty members, to meetings relating to diversity and admissions, which was then under her jurisdiction, but neglected even to notify Brown, much less invite her to participate.

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Lockette, the lawsuit claims, called for an “aggressive increase in the numbers of out-of-state students” in order to make the School of Medicine’s demographics resemble those of the United States instead of those of Missouri.

The lawsuit goes on to allege that Lockette derisively referred to students who reside in Missouri as “bumpkins, hicks, and illiterates who lived in Hootersville,” adding that he had made similar comments about medical school students in the past.

In one instance, when Lockette called for an increase in the “percentage of ‘underrepresented’ students,” Brown suggested the proposal “be reviewed by legal counsel,” to which Lockette allegedly responded by accusing her of “obstructing change.”

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In late 2016, Brown learned that Delafontaine planned to remove her from her position and replace her with Young-Walker, though Delafontaine assured her that “the decision had nothing to do with her performance” and asked her to voluntarily resign.

Notably, he allegedly criticized Brown for taking notes on their meeting, saying it seemed “litigious,” and when Brown refused to step down voluntarily, she claims that Delafontaine removed her in October 2016 and then issued statements indicating that Brown had resigned.

“Race was a contributing factor to the removal of Dr. Brown from the Associate Dean position and her replacement by a younger African-American female who lacked meaningful experience in performing the duties of the job,” the lawsuit declares. “Delafontaine and the School of Medicine succumbed to outside pressure in removing Dr. Brown...because she opposed race preferences that had not been reviewed by legal counsel for compliance with the civil rights laws.”

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