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Friday, September 17, 1999
Houston, Texas
Volume 65, Issue 19

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Fitzgibbon apologizes for summer comments

Faculty speak out about 'sexist and racist' remarks

By Sylvia Rocha
News Reporter 

Wednesday's meeting of the Faculty Senate began with an apology from Senate President William Fitzgibbon.

The apology was in reference to an article in the July 15 Houston Press in which writer Tim Fleck examined the number of women in upper-level administrative positions at UH.

Fitzgibbon, a mathematics professor, discussed the lack of female deans and allegations of gender discrimination in the office of General Counsel Dennis Duffy.

"It is true that there are a group of women that are pushing themselves and saying, 'We need women deans. I need to be dean,'" Fitzgibbon was quoted as saying in Fleck's piece.

He went on to say, "I think Duffy got a bad deal too. There were a group of women (in Duffy's office) who made trouble for him ... these white women didn't like a black boss."

Fitzgibbon said he made those comments solely based on personal opinion and did not intend them to represent the University's opinion.


Will Cordray/The Daily Cougar


Faculty Sen. Steve Huber of the Law Center, left, speaks at the Senate's meeting Wednesday as Law Center Sen. Seth /Chandler looks on. Huber and other senators criticized Faculty Senate President William Fitzgibbon's comments on diversity and alleged gender discrimination at UH.

"The quotes in the article were not misquoted, but they were taken out of context," Fitzgibbon said.

However, some senators seemed not to accept the president's apology. Sen. Maria Gonzalez, associate professor of English, said she did not appreciate Fitzgibbon's "sexist and racist comments."

Sen. Steve Huber of the Law Center cited not only the July 15 piece, but several other articles printed in the Press and the Houston Chronicle during the summer chronicling the discrimination issue in Duffy's office and the subsequent investigations into the matter.

Huber called the articles "libelous and extraordinary matters" and said Fitzgibbon's remarks were damaging to every member of the Faculty Senate. When Fitzgibbon attempted to move on to other business in the meeting, Huber said, "This is our business!"

Huber requested that a copy of a June 14 memo from UH President Arthur K. Smith addressing the discrimination claims be sent to each member of the Faculty Senate. The memo, which discussed the claims as represented in a series of Chronicle articles, was the topic of one of Fleck's summer Press pieces.

The document was initially distributed to upper-level UH System administrators and UH academic deans, but closed with the comment "You may of course feel free to share this memorandum with anyone you choose." It was apparently widely distributed.

Fitzgibbon said anyone who wanted a copy of the memo could obtain one from his office.

In other business, the Senate discussed the ninth annual Scholarship and Community conference, set for Oct. 6 in the University Hilton. The theme of this year's event will be "University School System Partnerships: Working Together to Create Safe, Caring and Healthy Learning Environments."

Laura Frishman, optometry professor, gave a presentation on the new Internal Grants Program, which fund unique faculty projects. She said the grants seem to have been well-received and financially beneficial.
 

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