A professor at Tennessee State University, his wife and three other people have sued the Tennessee Board of Regents, claiming it systematically set out to destroy the historically black university and hinting that its motivations were racial.
The lawsuit was filed by five members of a group called the Save TSU Community Coalition, which has routinely opposed decisions made by current university leadership, now headed by TSU interim President Portia Shields. They accused the board of not allowing them to watch or be heard by the board about the elimination of six majors from the school’s program in 2011.
The suit claims the university is “in disarray” under university and TBR leadership and says the plaintiffs can’t challenge what has happened because major decisions were made behind closed doors in meetings not publicly announced.
One of the plaintiffs, Ray Richardson, is a longtime math professor at the school who was a vocal opponent of Shields’ predecessor. He said the university’s and Board of Regents’ decision to eliminate six majors from TSU’s program was made “under the cover of darkness” with no input from faculty or the campus community. The issue was taken off the board’s agenda of a June 11, 2011, meeting, Richardson said, after opponents of the policy came to hear the board’s decision on it.