Michelle Ferrier, a former associate dean for Innovation, Research/Creative Activity and Graduate Studies at Ohio University’s Scripps College of Communication, filed a complaint in the Ohio Court of Claims for discrimination because of her race and sex, according to court documents.
The complaint was filed against the university, Scripps College Dean Scott Titsworth and Heather Krugman, the chief financial officer and director of operations for the Scripps College. Ferrier, a black woman, said the defendants targeted her and stripped her of her deanship and its benefits, including her intended career path.
“As a result of Defendants’ unlawful conduct, Ferrier has lost her title, her benefits, and the career that she moved across the country to achieve,” the complaint reads.
Ferrier came to OU in July 2013, according to university records, and now makes $95,296 per year as an associate professor of journalism. Before taking her job at OU, Ferrier taught at Elon University in North Carolina. The court documents said she was “eager to transition from teaching and to focus on her passion in educational administration and research.” According to the document, Ferrier was the only person of color in an administrative leadership position within the Scripps College.
The complaint reads that shortly after Ferrier started her new job, Krugman and Titsworth began targeting her and “eroding her funding and responsibilities within the Scripps College administration.”
According to the complaint, Krugman started with minor aggressions and subjected Ferrier to increased scrutiny that she did not subject white male administrators to. Additionally, the complaint reads that Krugman withheld information from Ferrier that was necessary for her to do her job. When Ferrier approached Titsworth about Krugman’s mistreatment, the complaint said he did nothing and said if Ferrier could not handle Krugman, then Titsworth would send Ferrier “back to the faculty.”
In January 2016, Titsworth told Ferrier that her deanship services would no longer be needed and her deanship would be terminated, the complaint reads. Titsworth also told Ferrier she needed to quietly accept the new position of director of entrepreneurship education.
The following month, Ferrier informed the university that there was a history of abuse at Scripps College toward African-American women in leadership roles, and, in April 2016, Ferrier lodged a formal complaint with the university’s Office of Equity and Civil Right Compliance.
“To date, the University has done nothing to address and correct the race and sex discrimination and harassment that Ferrier and others have experienced at Scripps College,” the complaint reads.