Linda S. Schilcher: Former Professor Settles Bias Lawsuit Against U. of Arkansas at Fayetteville

Historians in the News

A former professor at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville will receive $215,000 from the institution in return for dropping a discrimination lawsuit that she originally filed in 2000.

Linda S. Schilcher, who was an untenured professor of history in the Middle East-studies program until the university dismissed her, in 1999, alleged in the lawsuit that she had been fired because she is not Arab and because she spoke out about problems within the program.

Charles Kester, Ms. Schilcher's lawyer, said, "We're pleased that, after all these years, everyone was finally able to get this amicably resolved."

The payments consist of $160,802 in damages for the professor's alleged emotional distress and physical illness and $54,198 in lost wages. In the settlement, Ms. Schilcher agreed not to disparage the university, its programs, or people named in the suit, while the university agreed not to disparage her.

In the lawsuit, Ms. Schilcher said officials had made disparaging comments about her gender and race (she is white). She also asserted that an official had ordered that a favorable review of her be made less positive, and that another official had put a false letter in her personnel file. She is now a goatherd in California.

Gwenn Okruhlik, a former associate professor of Middle East studies at Fayetteville, made similar complaints of discrimination. She charged in a separate lawsuit against the university that male colleagues had made discriminatory comments about her. A jury awarded her $351,000 in 2002, but the verdict was later overturned.

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