Debra Saunders-White became chancellor of NCCU on June 1, 2013.
North Carolina Central University denied on Wednesday the validity of claims in three lawsuits filed against it that accuse Chancellor Debra Saunders-White of discriminating against non-African-American employees and misappropriation of taxpayer funds.
Marianne Murphy, a former tenured professor at the historically Black university’s business school, and Francis Smith, former director of graduate, professional, and executive programs at the business school, filed their suits in federal court. Kimberly Luse, Saunders-White’s former chief of staff, filed her suit in Durham County Superior Court.
Smith and Luse are White; Murphy is a native of Cuba.
Murphy left after she claims that she was passed over for several promotions and her complaints that she was paid less than her African-American counterparts were not addressed. Smith, who lost his job in a restructuring of the business school last year, alleges that NCCU created a hostile work environment for non-African-Americans and routinely failed to investigate claims of discrimination.
Luse’s suit alleges that Saunders-White retaliated against her after she reported that the chancellor spent taxpayer money on personal meals, entertainment and home exercise equipment. She claims Saunders-White falsified performance documents and publicly humiliated her.
“[Saunders-White] attempted to make Dr. Luse openly uncomfortable at work by making outrageous statements, including by stating on one occasion that the only two things NCCU was really about were ‘chicken and [sex],’” the suit states.
“The University disagrees with and plans to vigorously and aggressively defend itself against the numerous unfounded allegations contained in the complaints. NCCU will not allow such claims to deter us from our mission of providing students with a high quality education in a culturally diverse and enriching environment,” the school said in a statement.