A tenured University of Texas at Austin (UT) McCombs School of Business professor sued school leaders on Feb. 8 for allegedly threatening his career because of his public conservative views, the lawsuit reads.
Richard Lowery, McCombs School of Business associate professor of finance, publicly spoke out in various publications and on social media criticizing the school’s use of Critical Race Theory (CRT), Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) and affirmative action, according to the lawsuit. He began self-censoring after several school leaders began an alleged campaign to silence his speech by threatening his job, his pay and opportunities at the school.
“Professor Lowery dissents from the political and academic views that are held by the majority of his peers and superiors at UT, often publicly, and sometimes used pointed terminology to get his points across,” the lawsuit reads. “He also does not shy away from making his opinions known to elected officials in Texas, including those who oversee funding for UT.”
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Lowery criticized the university administration for “their approaches to issues such as [CRT] indoctrination, affirmative action, academic freedom, competence-based performance, and the future of capitalism,” according to the lawsuit. He also tweeted opposition to events and programs held on campus and sometimes tagged politicians in his posts.
“We literally have a minor in promoting left-wing activism through business, and people on the faculty council are mad that Scott Atlas was allowed to give a talk and I criticize CRT because that is ‘political’ and not academic. These people are shameless and awful,” Lowery allegedly tweeted about a Sustainability Institute “Global Sustainability Minor.”
Atlas is a Hoover Institution senior fellow and served as special advisor to the president and on the White House Coronavirus Task Force during President Donald Trump’s administration.
The defendants named in the lawsuit allegedly held meetings to discuss Lowery’s speech and flagged his tweets as concerns, some of which tagged politicians to notify them of events on campus. Administrators allegedly asked that police monitor his social media “because he might contact politicians or other influential people.”
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Lowery made his Twitter private and stopped tweeting in August 2022 after being made aware of the complaints, according to the lawsuit.
“Professors at public universities have the right to criticize administrators and speak to elected officials,”Del Kolde, Senior Attorney at the Institute for Free Speech, said in a press release. “The First Amendment protects such speech and, in a free society, DEI programs and UT’s president are not above public criticism.”
Lowery seeks court orders preventing the administration from threatening him for his speech and declaratory relief, the lawsuit reads. He argues the defendants violated his “free speech rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendment’s to the United States Constitution.”
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