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Official Sues University of Richmond Over Discrimination and Retaliation

A former University of Richmond administrator has filed a lawsuit against the school alleging gender discrimination by her superior.

Della Dumbaugh, a tenured mathematics professor and former associate dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, alleged dean Patrice Rankine of creating a hostile work environment and humiliating her on the basis of her sex.

The federal lawsuit, which is seeking $1 million in damages, alleges Rankine of retaliation after Dumbaugh told him about displeasure expressed by faculty members over his non-participation in explaining the detailed academic work of tenured professors during a faculty dinner. According to The Collegian, the university’s student newspaper, this led to Rankine’s outburst.

“From then on, however, Dean Rankine made a series of cutting comments designed to demean Dr. Dumbaugh in public settings or in the presence of her academic or dean’s office peers,” according to the suit.

During the same year, Rankine publicly disrespected Dumbaugh by calling her “words of affirmation person,” forcing her to resign.

“Dean Rankine offered no acknowledgement of Dr. Dumbaugh’s contributions to the school, made no expression of gratitude for her efforts, and did not ask the faculty to signify appreciation for her service, all standard protocol when associate deans return to their departments,” the suit reads.

The university is currently reviewing the complaint and is planning to file a response.

“As the suit involves respected members of our community, the university does not plan to publicly address any allegations,” spokeswoman Cynthia Price told Richmond Times. “We will file a response to the complaint at the appropriate time. The university remains committed to maintaining a diverse and inclusive community where all members can thrive.”


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