Former Morehouse professor files gender discrimination lawsuit

A former Morehouse College professor has filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the all-male Atlanta school, accusing officials of terminating her employment without just cause and bowing to pressure from students and administrators, many involved in the same fraternity, who disagreed with how she graded students.

The professor, Vickie Cox Edmondson, said she was fired in July 2018 for academic misconduct after three students and some administrators complained she graded the students harshly. The lawsuit says many are members of Alpha Phi Alpha Inc., the nation’s oldest African American fraternity.

“Morehouse’s leadership concedes to the demands and complaints of male students, male alumni, male faculty, male upper level administrators, and members of the all-male Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity,” the complaint says.

The college declined comment, saying it doesn’t discuss pending litigation. The lawsuit was filed last week in federal court in Atlanta.

The lawsuit complaint says the college “has a strongly disparate number of male (versus female) faculty members and upper administrative leaders.” About 38% of Morehouse’s 158 faculty members were women during the 2018-19 school year, according to a document on the college’s website. The document did not include a gender breakdown of administrators.

Edmondson, hired in 2010, became a tenured professor in 2013 and was appointed in 2015 to the position of Associate Provost for Student Success.

The lawsuit says Edmondson’s troubles began in November 2016 when she complained to administrators a colleague did not have the proper credentials to teach business. In August 2017, Edmondson said she was copied on an email directing faculty to stop her from discussing the faculty member’s credentials.

That semester, she said two students raised concerns about their grades in her class. In January 2018, Edmondson said the fraternity, which the students were members of, pledged $2.5 million in scholarships to the college. Two months later, Morehouse began an investigation into her grading process. In July, she was fired and replaced with a male professor with lesser qualifications, the lawsuit claims.

Edmondson now teaches at Tuskegee University. She is seeking money from increased travel costs from her Fulton County home to Tuskegee, attorney fees, and other expenses.