An Austin court has allowed a University of Texas professor’s lawsuit against three McCombs School of Business officials to proceed after a motion to dismiss.
Tenured UT finance professor Richard Lowery is accusing defendants Lillian Mills, dean of the McCombs School of Business, Ethan Burris, senior associate dean for academic affairs, and Sheridan Titman, chair of the finance department, of violating his First Amendment rights.
In the complaint filed in February, Lowery claims the university administration “threaten[ed] his job, pay, institute affiliation, research opportunities, academic freedom, and label[ed] his behavior as inviting violence or lacking in civility” for being critical of “administrators at Texas’ flagship state university for their use of public funds for ideological indoctrination.”
According to the Institute for Free Speech, Professor Lowery is “well known” for writing opinion articles that challenge university officials’ actions regarding “critical race theory indoctrination, affirmative action, academic freedom, competence-based performance measures, and the future of capitalism.”
The suit states that the defendants pressured Lowery’s friend, business professor Carlos Carvalho, asking him to “‘work with Richard [Lowery]’ about his speech.”
Carvalho works with Lowery in the Salem Center for Policy, an institute within the McCombs School of Business. The defendants allegedly approached him with threats to remove him from his executive director position if he continued refusing to discipline Lowery over his speech.
The complaint argued these actions were “a campaign to silence Lowery” and included quotes where the defendants allegedly conversed about asking Lowery to “tone it down.”
“Defendants’ threats to reduce Lowery’s pay, involuntarily end his affiliation with the Salem Center, reduce his access to research opportunities, inquire about his tweets, label him, request that his speech be placed under police surveillance, or otherwise discipline him are designed to silence Lowery’s criticisms or change the content of this speech to make it less critical, disagreeable, or offensive,” the lawsuit states.
After the defendants moved to dismiss Lowery’s complaint, the court denied the motion and allowed most of the claims in the suit to proceed.
Neither Lowery nor the University of Texas Board of Regents responded to Texas Scorecard’s request for comment.
The members of the University of Texas Board of Regents are appointed by the governor and approved by the Texas Senate.