Temple U. academic adviser claims discrimination

Posted: August 20, 2014

AN ACADEMIC ADVISER at Temple University's College of Science and Technology is using a former supervisor's doctoral writings as evidence in a federal lawsuit alleging he was denied a promotion because of race.

Kenneth L. Ruff, who is African-American, filed the suit yesterday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Ruff's suit said he was the only African-American among five advisers in October 2010, when the academic advising program was reorganized.

The reorganization established a career ladder, with several new positions: Advisor I, Advisor II, Senior Advisor and Principal Advisor.

Ruff was hired in 2008 and was the second most senior adviser, according to the suit. Ruff could not be reached for comment.

"At all times relevant, Plaintiff [Ruff] performed his job duties in an excellent manner. By way of example, Plaintiff consistently received excellent scores on Defendant's [Temple University's] Student Feedback Form," the suit said.

But his applications for both the Senior Advisor and Principal Advisor positions were denied. They represented both a promotion in title and salary.

Instead, the suit said, two people who are Caucasian with "significantly less experience" received the promotions.

One employee promoted had been an adviser for only four months and the other person had "held a non-Advisory position" as an enrollment and retention coordinator.

The lawsuit also cites an academic paper by Matthew Campbell, then-director of the College of Science and Technology's Office of Student Services. He was one of two administrators who denied Ruff's promotion.

"As further evidence of Defendant's discriminatory intent, in or about March of 2010, Campbell published a paper for his doctoral program.

"Therein he wrote 'I sense that I am always limited by my identity as a white, middle-class male of protestant background. . . . I'm still suspect of my own intentions, aware of my subconscious desire for self-preservation/promotion and the [white] privilege granted to me unwittingly."

Ruff filed the lawsuit without a lawyer. It said he obtained a "notice of right to sue" from the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Temple University spokesman Ray Betzner, however, issued this statement:

"Mr. Ruff, who continues to be employed at Temple, bases his complaint on claims that are roughly four years old. The EEOC has already reviewed his case and closed it after finding no evidence of any violation of law."

On Twitter: @ValerieRussDN

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