January 6, 2012

The Honorable Arne Duncan                                                                                                                                  Secretary                                                                                                                                                                      U.S. Department of Education                                                                                                                                 400 Maryland Avenue SW                                                                                                                                Washington, DC  20202

Dear Secretary Duncan:

Subject:  Bullies in the Ivory Tower:  An African American Woman’s Thirteen-Year Fight for Educational Justice and a Phd – Being Deprived of the Right to an Education

I, Agnes L. Scott, enrolled in The University of Toledo’s Judith Herb College of Education, Health Science and Human Service, Department of Educational Foundations and Leadership program at the age of 57 to pursue a Phd in Higher Education Administration.  I am now 70 years old and have been experiencing professor/administrator-to-student academic bullying at this University for the last eight of the thirteen years.  I allege that professors and administrators have been and are acting capriciously, failing to exercise appropriate professional judgments so egregiously that they are depriving me of my right to an education - liberty and property rights extended to me under the fifth and fourteenth amendments of the U.S. Constitution. Please help end the capricious actions of these professors and administrators. I deserve a doctoral degree in Higher Education Administration.

I’m writing to you instead of Dr. Lloyd Jacobs, President of the University of Toledo, because my many appeals to him and numerous other professors and administrators have, for over the last eight years, gone without resolutions.  Although thousands of students attend The University of Toledo, Dr. Jacobs will remember me because, in November, 2006, I wrote a manuscript, entitled Bullies in the Ivory Tower:  An African American Woman’s Fight for Educational Justice and a Phd, chronicling the obstacles that were being placed in my way by faculty and administrators at the University and dropped it off at his office following a 450-mile bicycle trek from Nashville, Tennessee to the University protesting those injustices.  My meeting with him two months later resulted in a temporary relief from professor/administrator-to-student academic bullying.  However, my later documentary to Dr. Jacobs entitled Bullies in Ivory Towers:  An African American Woman’s Twelve and One-Half Year Fight With The University of Toledo for Educational Justice and a Phd:  If I Die Before They Wake, chronicling more allegations were not adequately addressed.  The allegations were glossed over with persuasive educational rhetoric among kindred souls at the University or in the university arena (including my racial discrimination claim filed with the OCR/DOE), rendering them not credible.  Professors and administrators tout student ineptness. However, not true, I have not been able to raise my voice to a height that resonates as loudly as the combined voices of professors and administrators at the University, or stand with anyone to show number strength and solidarity, so that I can say that I am capable.  I have done the work.  I am worthy.  They, as agents of the university, are, I believe, with conscious thought and effort, dropping the ball.   I allege that my graduation has been delayed nine times due to academic bullying tactics by professors and administrators at The University of Toledo.

 

 

The Honorable Arne Duncan                                                      2                                              January 6, 2012

Recently:

 

1.       Fall 2010 – My Dissertation Chair, with support from other dissertation committee members, fed me flawed dissertation data.

            

2.       Fall 2011 – My Dissertation Chair abandoned my dissertation class.  However, I was charged $1,168 for the one hr. credit.

 

3.       Fall 2011 – It took four months (August – December) for my Dissertation Chair to provide complete dissertation revisions, thereby thwarting for the ninth time my participation in a graduation exercise.

Previous academic bullying tactics:

1.       I was unofficially kicked out of school in 2003.  I made over 50 phone calls to professors and administrators, but to no avail.  My major advisor of five years would not return my phone calls.

 

2.       A Nashville, Tennessee pastor, The Reverend James Thomas, Jefferson Street Missionary Baptist Church, wrote to former University of Toledo President, Dr. Daniel Johnson, in 2004 and asked him to look into my allegations of injustices.

 

3.        It took six months for my major advisor let me know I passed my major exam.

 

4.       My major and minor advisors attempted to make me take a non-required minor exam.

 

5.       My Dissertation Chair wrote dissertation revision comments that referenced holding a gun to someone’s head; however my dissertation has nothing to do with guns or violence.

 

6.       References to W. E. B. Du Bois, an African American social activist, scholar, and writer regarding black liberation theology, and HBCU missions were systematically removed from my dissertation.

 

7.       Just hours prior to my dissertation defense day presentation in December 2010, I received an email from my Dissertation Chair suggesting that I rewrite my dissertation (research questions, hypotheses, theoretical framework).  

Not all of the academic bullying tactics I’ve received at the hands of professors and administrators at The University of Toledo are stated.  There are many more.  Some tied to never-ending revisions, where professors have revised their own revisions, many times confusing revision package dates. 

I am not going away.  I will not commit suicide.  I will not keep quiet for fear that my bad credit report including a student loan debt of over $150,000 might surface or that the OCR/DOE ruled in favor of The University of Toledo in my racial discrimination claims. This is my fight for liberty and justice (my right to an education).  I will not succumb to abusive, bullying, and capricious actions by

 

The Honorable Arne Duncan                                                      3                                              January 6, 2012

professors and administrators, explained away by convincing professor/administrator educational jargon.  I will fight until I have exhausted all avenues I have before me. 

Mr. Duncan, as Secretary of Education, you are the avenue for help and hope in this arena.  Professor/administrator-to-student academic bullying is happening to too many of America’s students.  Students don’t speak out because, according to De Luca and Twale’s 2008 publication of Faculty Incivility:  The rise of the Academic Bully Culture and What to Do About It,  they fear repercussions due to the enormous power imbalance of faculty vs. student.   

I deserve a doctoral degree.  I’ve performed over and over again.  I’ve been held hostage for the last eight of the thirteen years I’ve been enrolled, forfeiting income, career positions, and quality time with my family.  I should not be deprived of a degree because of capricious actions by The University of Toledo professors and administrators, nor should any other student at any other university.  Please send an objective person to help me – someone who knows the university culture – someone who knows qualitative and quantitative research – someone who can objectively examine and evaluate correspondences, promises, timelines – and someone who will acknowledge the rights and responsibilities of students as well as the rights and responsibilities of university agents.

With America attempting to maximize its competitiveness in world markets, it needs to strengthen its educational base, not deplete it, especially not by institutions that are supposed to build its base.  If America continues to let educational institutions police themselves and sacrificing its students; it is to its own detriment. 

Sincerely,

 

Agnes L. Scott, Doctoral Student                                                                                                                                 agneslscott@gmail.com                                                                                                                                            

View:  Utube link for open letter to Secretary Arne Duncan – Agnes Scott vs. University of Toledo

C:  Dr. Lloyd Jacobs, President, University of Toledo; Dean of Students; Judith Herb College of Education, Health Science and Human Service Dean; Vice Provost for Graduate Affairs, and College of Graduate Studies Dean; Department of Educational Foundations and Leadership Chair; Dissertation Committee; University of Toledo Board of Trustees; Ohio Board of Regents