The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Update on Wang Ping lawsuit

A trial date has been set in the discrimination lawsuit that Creative Writing professor Wang Ping, Ph.D., is bringing against Macalester. According to a scheduling order filed in the Ramsey County district court on Wed. Feb. 27, the trial will commence Mar. 3, 2014 and is scheduled for 3 to 4 days. The scheduling order details the deadlines that Wang, the plaintiff, and Macalester, the defendant, must comply with leading up to the March trial date. The order also requires that Wang undergo an independent physical examination by Sept. 20, 2013.

Wang is suing the college under the Minnesota Human Rights Act and is claiming that she was unlawfully discriminated against by the college in the promotion process on the basis of gender, race and national origin. According an informational statement submitted to the court by the college’s lawyers on Feb. 1, the college asserts that Wang’s allegations of retaliation against her by the college after she filed an internal appeal and a discrimination charge “are without merit.”

“Since her application for promotion was denied, Professor Wang has continued to be a valued member of Macalester’s faculty,” the statement said. “She has not been treated less favorably because she filed a charge of discrimination. In fact, two years after her first application for promotion was denied, Professor Wang was promoted to full professor after the FPC determined that she had then met the high standard for promotion to full professor.”

Wang began teaching at in the English Department at Macalester in 1999, and was denied a promotion to associate professor in 2003. She was promoted to associate professor with full tenure in 2005, but again denied when she sought promotion to full professor in 2009. Ping was ultimately granted the position of full professor last spring, but claims that since filing a discrimination charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and internal appeals when she was was denied her promotions, she has faced retaliation by the college. Wang claims her teaching budget was nearly eliminated and she was forced to make copies of student writing for her classes with her own money.

She also claims to have faced many institutional roadblocks in her attempts to launch her Kinship of Rivers project which links communities along the Mississippi and Yangtze Rivers and attributes this to retaliation on the part of the college for the complaints she had filed.

Since The Mac Weekly first reported the lawsuit on Feb. 15, the news of Wang’s charges has also been reported by local and national news outlets such as the Star Tribune, Pioneer Press, Poets and Writers, City Pages and the Asian American Writers’ Workshop.

Wang was denied promotion to full professor in 2009 based on the recommendation of the Faculty Personnel Committee which was made up of President Brian Rosenberg, Provost Kathleen Murray, and professors Jaine Strauss, Garry Krueger, Jim Doyle and Toni Dorca. The FPC, which was chaired by Strauss, denied Wang’s promotion in a letter to Wang on Mar. 31, 2010.

Wang appealed the FPC’s decision to deny her promotion and an Appeals Committee was formed to review her appeal. Wang’s Faculty Appeals Committee was comprised of professors Tom Varberg, Jane Rhodes, Paula Coohey, Linda Shultz Sasse and was chaired by Karine Moe.

Wang based her appeal on promotion guidelines in the college’s Faculty Handbook. She cited four primary violations: violation of procedure regarding the presumption of excellence in teaching, violation of academic freedom in choice of pedagogy, violation of procedure in the misinterpretation of the categories of service and the violation of procedure in failing to offer Wang a post-decision meeting with the Provost. The FAC found no basis for Wang’s appeal based on presumption of excellence in teaching and a majority of the committee found that violations based on freedom in choice of pedagogy and misinterpretation categories of service had occurred in the FPC’s process.

The committee was unanimous in its opinion that a “material violation of an Appealable Matter” occurred in the failure to offer Wang a post-decision meeting with the Provost. They submitted their findings to Rosenberg in a letter dated Sept. 22, 2010, and the authority to either appeal or uphold the FPC’s decisions ultimately rested with Rosenberg.

Rosenberg responded to the FAC’s findings in a Sept. 29, 2010 letter addressed to Chair Moe and the Appeals Committee.

“The Appeals Committee identified three areas in which either a majority of the committee or the entire committee found there to be a violation of procedure on the part of the Faculty Personnel Committee,” Rosenberg wrote.

In the letter Rosenberg outlined his decision to uphold Wang’s promotion denial. He was in agreement with the Faculty Appeals Committee’s findings that there was no violation on choice of pedagogy. However, on the subjects of violation on the choice of pedagogy and misinterpretation of categories of service, Rosenberg declared no violation, despite the fact a majority of the FAC had found violations in both categories. In the final alleged violation that Wang brought to the FAC, Rosenberg found there had been a violation of procedure by failing to offer Wang a post-decision meeting with Provost Murray.

“I do find this to be a violation of procedure, but one that occurred subsequent to the conclusion of committee deliberations and therefore was not material to the outcome of the case,” Rosenberg wrote.

Rosenberg concluded the letter to the Appeals Committee saying that he found no reason to overturn the decision of the FPC or to send the case back to the committee on the basis of a procedural violation. He did conclude that a meeting with the Provost, a member of Wang’s FPC and a member of Wang’s Candidate Review Committee—made up of committee chair Daylanne English, James Dawes, Terry Krier and David Chioni Moore—should be “expeditiously offered” to Wang.

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