Professor Alleges Widespread Racial Bias in the Hiring and Promotion of Black Faculty at the University of Memphis

Larry Moore, an associate professor at the Fogelman College of Business and Economics at the University of Memphis, sent a scathing letter to state legislators in Tennessee charging that in terms of faculty hiring the university “appears to operate under a 1960s form of tokenism.” Moore has also filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission.

In his letter, Professor Moore explains what he believes is an elaborate ruse to cover up policies that seek to exclude black scholars:

"Every two or three years a qualified black is hired with a great fanfare and given a high position with a great salary and often with a full professorship. Then in an alternate year they will again, with high fanfare, honor some well-known black like Ben Hooks or Maxine Smith. This gives the impression that blacks are welcome and are well represented on campus, but in reality, this is solely a scam to continue to mislead the legislature, fool donors, and stay under the radar of the EEOC, but after the fanfare, there is little or nothing else done to support or promote black professors or Ph.D. students. In fact, few blacks are ever hired, and fewer still are promoted. Indeed, many of the current blacks who have been promoted to a full professor at the University through the regular tenure and promotion process were promoted under previous administrations. Also, of those blacks who have been promoted, a large percentage are Africans, with American-born black men generally at the lower end of the salary and promotion scale.”

Professor Moore states that his salary is $52,000, whereas the average for people in his position is between $75,000 and $80,000.

In defending its record, the University of Memphis issued a statement saying there are 167 black faculty members on campus making up 8.5 percent of the total faculty. University officials also point out that seven, or 11.7 percent, of the 60 faculty members hired over the past year are black. Blacks make up 39 percent of the undergraduate enrollments and 28 percent of all graduate enrollments at the university.