PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — At Brown University’s 224th Commencement exercises Monday, May 25, 1992, President Vartan Gregorian informed more than 15,000 faculty, students, parents, and alumni that a 14-year-old consent decree under which the University had made its decisions about the hiring and promotion of faculty had been vacated.
The Lamphere Decree, named for Louise Lamphere, a former anthropology professor who brought suit in 1975 alleging sexual discrimination in hiring and advancement to tenure, established procedures whereby the University would increase the number of tenured and nontenured women on its faculty. The decree, which settled that class-action suit out of court in September 1977, also provided a succession of goals and timetables to measure the University’s progress toward full utilization and representation of women on its faculty, based on the pool of qualified women for tenured and nontenured positions.
Shortly before Commencement Weekend, the University and a group of women faculty representing all current and future women faculty members at Brown, jointly petitioned the U.S. District Court of Rhode Island to terminate the decree. The University asserted that it had complied with all affirmative action procedures of the Lamphere Decree, including goals and timetables. Class representatives for women faculty told the court “that in the fourteen years of the Decree’s existence, Brown has become a leader, among the universities to which it is most commonly compared, in the recruitment and hiring of tenured and nontenured women faculty.” The University more than quintupled the number of tenured women on its faculty during the 14 years the decree was in effect.
The petition to terminate the decree was granted by Chief Judge Francis J. Boyle late Friday afternoon, May 22, 1992. Gregorian’s announcement, ironically, came during the ceremony that closed the 1991-92 academic year. During that academic year, Brown celebrated the 100th anniversary of the admission of women to the University.
The hiring and promotion principles embodied in the Lamphere Decree will continue to guide the University, though without the involvement of the court. The University and class representatives jointly developed new procedures for hiring and promotion, and those new procedures have been approved both by the University’s faculty and by the Brown Corporation, the University’s governing body.
Editors: Copies of the May 22 court order terminating the Lamphere Consent Decree are available from the News Bureau as are reprints of a feature article on the legacy of the Lamphere Decree (Brown Alumni Monthly, February 1992).