Former Provost Carol Parker speaks out on pending lawsuit with NMSU administration

Last year, former Provost Carol Parker was terminated after a Resolution of No Confidence was passed by the faculty and student senate in Nov. 2021.  However, Parker recently filed a lawsuit against New Mexico State University to ultimately address the topics that she was terminated for, and to bring doubt to question why she was fired in the first place.

According to the lawsuit, Parker was made the scapegoat for issues created by her male superiors.  It also alleged that her termination was made extremely public, which was inconsistent with the way NMSU treated other disciplinary actions or terminations against other administrators.

Parker claimed in the lawsuit that her termination was partially due to her discovery of NMSU’s record of “pay disparity between employees on the basis of gender and race.”  Parker contended that she found faculty evidence proving low pay, especially for women and minorities.

“After [Parker] reported gender discrimination, NMSU referred her report of gender discrimination to NMSU’s Office of Inquisitional Equity (OIE) for follow-up and an interview,” the lawsuit stated. “However [Parker’s] employment [was] terminated the day before her scheduled interview with OIE.”

The Round Up contacted Parker’s lawyer, Kate Ferlic, who works on cases involving civil rights, whistleblower violations, etc..  Ferlic said in a statement that the alleged events leading up and ultimately resulting in the filing of  Parker’s case should not have been tolerated.

“Discrimination on the basis of sex has no place in this country and certainly not in our educational institutions. Retaliation for raising concerns of gender and minority pay inequity must not be tolerated,” Ferlic said in a statement.

Additionally, Ferlic was able to communicate some of the opinions that Parker had on her situation and the lawsuit. Parker shared, through Ferlic, that she only ever wanted to support the ideals and values that a university represents.

“I saw [universities] as places that supported personal growth and rewarded hard work. [I also saw them] as places that would help you change the trajectory of your life and your family’s future opportunities.  That proved true in my case until I came to NMSU,” Parker said.

Parker said that she was a first-generation college student and built her career in universities for years,  but after being terminated, has struggled to restart her life’s work.

“Decades of work invested in building my career through a series of successful positions and progressive promotions at other research universities was destroyed,” Parker said. “I have been unemployed ever since and was forced to tap retirement benefits years before I planned.  The shock of what happened to me has been very traumatic, and disillusioning.”

Parker expressed that regardless of what happened to her, she hopes to be able to use her experiences to help women in leadership positions who may be going through similar experiences.

“One of the things I most enjoyed about holding leadership positions in higher education was the ability to mentor others with leadership potential,” Parker said. “My hope for the future is that university leadership encourages the advancement of women and minorities in higher education and supports their success.”

The Round Up reached out to the university and NMSU faculty senate to inquire for a comment.  Both declined, saying that they could not comment on pending litigation.

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