Former dean testifies against U

Kamariea Forcier

A week has passed since a trial brought against the University by two former professors began in federal court July 23, and some people believe it won’t end any time soon.
Dr. Patricia Olson and Dr. Shirley Johnston, former professors in the College of Veterinary Medicine, claimed in U.S. District Judge David Doty’s court that the University discriminated and retaliated against them because of their gender.
University lawyers claim administrators acted within their rights when David Thawley demoted Johnston and terminated Olson’s contract.
Johnston testified Monday that during a meeting with Thawley he said to her, “‘In this office, whose opinion counts?'”
“And I said to him, ‘Dave, my opinion counts and your opinion counts,'” she said.
“He was very angry at that, and he asked me again,” Johnston said. She said that Thawley asked the question three times before the meeting ended. Johnston testified that her next contact with Thawley was a letter ending her appointment as associate dean, three months earlier than mentioned in the meeting.
“I loved my job as associate dean,” Johnston said quietly. “I intended to work the rest of my life at the University of Minnesota, at a college I love.”
After delivering the graduation speech for the College of Veterinary Medicine in June 1996, Johnston quit her job as a tenured professor at the University.
Johnston was the first woman in the history of the College of Veterinary Medicine to hold an associate dean position at the University. After being appointed to the position in 1991, she hired Olson to take over some of her teaching duties.
In 1992, Olson applied for a position as department chair in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences. Jeffrey Klausner, acting department chairman during the search, was hired for the job.
Olson filed a gender discrimination complaint with the University’s equal opportunity office.
Three days after Olson’s complaint was filed, Johnston received her first reprimand from Dean David Thawley. Three months later, Thawley demoted Johnston.
Johnston will finish her testimony today and Thawley is expected to take the stand in the afternoon.