Professor sues chancellor after tenure denied

By Matt Daray

A political science professor is suing the university on grounds of sex discrimination and retaliation.

Laura Hatcher, a political science professor, filed a lawsuit Friday at the U.S. District Court in Benton claiming the university discriminated against her by denying her tenure, effectively terminating her employment. She is seeking more than $2 million in compensatory damages, punitive damages and restitution for attorney’s fees.

Shari Rhode, Hatcher’s attorney, said Hatcher filed the lawsuit because she lost tenure to a male professor who lacked the same qualifications and dedication to the department Hatcher has displayed. Hatcher had more stringent qualifications to meet than her male competitor, she said.


Rhode said Hatcher took the case to the university’s five-member judicial review board, where the case was voted unanimously in her favor. Though the board ruled for Hatcher, Chancellor Rita Cheng declined to carry out its decision, Rhode said.

University spokesman Rod Sievers said the university does not discuss personnel matters or litigation pertaining to the university or its staff. Parts of the tenure process are sometimes disputed, he said, and in this case the dispute will be decided by a judge.