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Newman President, Accused of Sexism, Quits

December 9, 2005

When Newman University announced this week that Aidan O. Dunleavy would be leaving as president of the Wichita institution, the press release talked about how he had achieved key goals and was "anxious to consider other opportunities."

Faculty members, however, said they believe he is leaving because of increased criticism of the way he has treated them, as well as accusations of sexism and discrimination in hiring decisions. While professors did not want to be identified (they noted that Dunleavy remains president for the rest of the academic year), they said that the resignation followed meetings in which trustees heard directly from professors about many of the concerns.

A spokeswoman for the university denied that there was any relationship between the complaints about Dunleavy and his decision to leave. She said that board members accepted his resignation "with regret."

The accusations about Dunleavy gained more attention in September, when the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued the university, charging it with discrimination against a former dean. In July, the university settled another discrimination case by a female administrator who had won backing from the EEOC, which tends to have a very high standard for getting involved in bias suits against universities.

In both cases, the women cited evidence that Dunleavy told administrators that he wanted men for administrative jobs that the women sought. In one case, Dunleavy is reported to have said that he wanted a Roman Catholic man in his 40s for the position. (Newman is a Catholic university.) In interviews, former and current Newman officials said that they believed the charges, had in some cases witnessed what they considered disparate treatment of men and women, and said that the president paid little attention to faculty views.

Several sources also said that another lawsuit or EEOC complaint was expected against the university soon.

An e-mail message sent from the trustees to Newman employees last month thanked many of them for participating in discussions about the university. While the message did not make reference to the complaints about the president, it expressed the board's commitment to "respect and dignity for all Newman employees."

Dunleavy, through a spokeswoman, has refused to comment on the charges, and the spokeswoman said Thursday that university policy precluded any comment on a matter involving litigation.

 

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