Report: UCLA failed to check faculty bias claims

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LOS ANGELES (AP) – The University of California, Los Angeles has not properly investigated an increasing number of complaints of racial bias among faculty, according to an internal report obtained by a newspaper.

The Los Angeles Times reported Saturday that a university-commissioned review found claims of discrimination rarely resulted in any punishment.

The university “failed to adequately record, investigate, or provide for disciplinary sanctions for incidents which, if substantiated, would constitute violations of university nondiscrimination policy,” the document said. Instead, the newspaper reported, UCLA administrators tried to placate faculty who felt targeted.

Most of the claims of bias involved hiring, advancement and retention decisions.

The review was launched in 2012 after a group of faculty approached Chancellor Gene D. Block. It was conducted by a five-member panel led by former California Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno.

Block wrote in a letter to faculty and administrators Friday that he would make changes, including the appointment of a full-time campus discrimination officer to investigate complaints.

“We must set an example for our students. We cannot tolerate bias, in any form, at UCLA,” Block wrote. “I sincerely regret any occasions in the past in which we have fallen short of our responsibility.” Through a representative, Block declined the paper’s request for comment.

The report related various incidents of perceived bias or public humiliation.

One health sciences professor, who is Hispanic, described a 2008 incident in which a “senior faculty member” used a racial slur against him in front of students. The professor said he contacted his department’s assistant dean, but was advised against pushing the issue because it “would cause more trouble.”

The report came three months after a former head and neck surgeon at the university’s medical school settled a racial discrimination lawsuit against the UC Board of Regents for $4.5 million. Dr. Christian Head alleged that he was retaliated against and denied teaching opportunities for filing complaints.

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