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keywords: termination, University Michigan, grievance committee, evidence, grievances, Jeanne Welton, Jackie McClain, University of Michigan Medical Center, Jan Mulcrone, racism

Open Letter Regarding Institutionalized Racism at the University of Michigan

Introduction: The University of Michigan is among the top universities in racial incidents on campus (D'Sousa, Dinesh. Illiberal Education: The Politics of Race and Sex on Campus. New York: Free Press, 1991 ). Numerous racial incidents have occurred regarding the university newspaper in February 1996 (See attached) When I worked there, I teamed up with an anonymous Human Resources Department (HRD) officer and author there to try to end this. Little did we know, but racism and stereotyping was unofficially institutionalized by the university's Human Resources Department. Contrary to written policies, they told me that I would have to start stereotyping people or be terminated. Electing not to violate the law, I separated from the University after being pressured to do so without any explanation from them. The reason for the prevalence of racial incidents is obvious from the events outlined below.


  • Mathis, JC. Recent incidents throw spotlight on race relations. Ann Arbor News. February 1996 p. A1.
  • Cain, S. Blacks see med school as "cold". Ann Arbor News. March 13, 1996, p. 1.


University of Michigan
2074 Fleming Administration Building
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1340

Dear Mr. Bollinger,

1. University of Michigan Standard Practice Guide
2. Grievances (96-297 and 96-298)
3. Grievance submitted January 9th, not yet heard
4. Letter from Jackie R. McClain, HR&AAA, dated February 14, 1997

During the past two years, I have been trying to resolve a grievance with the UMMC and was told by your predecessors to turn to the Human Resources Department for just resolution of my issues. My father, a 1959 graduate alumnus of the University of Michigan Law School agrees with me that justice has not been administered as Dr. Duderstadt had promised. Furthermore, he said that, knowing your background, you would probably have a better understanding for how just resolution of disputes should be achieved. It is my hope that you will be more serious about ending the racism institutionalized at the Medical Center.

The Grievance Proceedings (96-297 and 96-298) which were conducted were neither in good faith nor did they follow the procedures prescribed in the Standard Practice Guide. Reference 4 admits that the grievance system is not intended to be a justice system. My understanding therefore is that the university does not have a system to obtain the evidence, witnesses or sworn testimonies necessary for proper administration of justice. Attached is a letter which outlined to your predecessors eight improprieties in the reconciliation of my grievance.

Your intervention is much appreciated.


Captain, USAR


January 11, 1997

11575 SW Pacific Highway
Suite 150
Tigard, OR 97223

President Homer A. Neal
University of Michigan
2074 Fleming Administration Building
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1340

Dear Dr. Neal,

During the past two years, I have been trying to resolve a grievance with the UMMC and was told by your predecessor to turn to the Human Resources Department for just resolution of my issues. My father, a 1959 graduate alumnus of the University of Michigan Law School agrees with me that justice has not been administered as Dr. Duderstadt had promised. Despite your being the interim president, I would like to enlist your attention before the issue receives more publicity. It is my hope that you will be more serious about ending the racism and injustice institutionalized at the Medical Center.

The Grievance Proceedings (96-297 and 96-298) which were conducted were neither in good faith nor did they follow the procedures prescribed in the Standard Practice Guide. This seems inconsistent with the University of Michigan Employee Relations Training Manual where we are trained, "Don’t just "go through the motions"." All my grievances have submitted in a timely manner after informal exchanges with HRD failed to resolve the issues. Specifically, the grievance procedure which was to administer justice included the following eight improprieties.

1. I had no representative on the committee. On July 1, 1996, I was sent a letter by Nicole Champagne requesting my three selections of a Review Committee Panel Member, with the understanding that one would be chosen. My selections were Larry Katz, Jerry Lonergan, and Glenna Schweitzer. None of these were listed in the letter by Laurita Thomas as members of the grievance review committee. Thus, I was denied any representative of my choice.

2. Half the committee were people who participated in the misdeeds against me, making impartial administration of justice in my case impossible. Two of the four people on the committee (Jeanne Welton and Jan Mulcrone) were involved in the termination process, thus people directly involved held veto power over any decision of the review committee. Additionally, the committee probably had no members with motivation to probe the issue as presented by people who were part of the questioned actions. Jeanne Welton was the HRD member advising my supervisor in action and Jan Mulcrone was involved directly and as her supervisor.

3. The committee’s composition was not in accordance with Paragraph II. I. of SPG 201.8.

4. There was only marginal effort to involve me in the process. I was given one choice of a date to "hear the decision of the committee", September 6th, which I told the caller was not reasonable since I would be out of the country on business. The date, she said, was inflexible, apparently to meet the convenience of others.

5. The report was typed by Jeanne Welton and signed by Jan Mulcrone, the two individuals who perpetrated the injustice. I wonder whether anyone else had any real input in the decision.

6. The decision was made on unsubstantiated hearsay, uncharacteristic of legitimate pursuit of justice. The report cited no evidence which the committee should have reviewed as it made its decision. No member of the committee ever asked me for names of witnesses, evidence, or any further documentation of my claims. No sworn statements were ever cited. In a true pursuit of justice, evidence should be presented and cited, witnesses should be called, sworn statements made, and decisions should be made based on hard evidence, not claims and hearsay.

7. Although Jeanne Welton has claimed that the University of Michigan Medical Center is a "for cause" employer, I still have not been told the cause for my dismissal. Despite confirmed reports that my supervisors tried to frame me with a subordinate, Jeanne Welton and Jan Mulcrone participated in the process to dismiss me without any evidence of cause. No further details or substantiation has been presented except that I was "unable" to do the job. Yet I met 100% of my goals, had a positive rapport with my colleagues, and received a satisfactory review 4 months prior to my leaving. The only thing that stood as evidence was one disciplinary letter dated 6 months previously, and my unresolved response that I understood that I was being directed to practice racism. The review committee granted that I should be paid for the period of suspension because the reason for the suspension was invalid. If it was not valid for suspension, how was it a valid reason for termination?

8. "When unlawful discrimination is alleged, the committee will also include a representative of the Affirmative Action Office." SPG 201.8, Paragraph II.I. A member of this office was never present in any formal review committee despite Jeanne Welton’s citing my disciplinary letter and response in the pre-termination conference.

  • The settlement which I desire is the following:
  • Either: Rehearing of the grievance by a committee composed of people who were not even remotely involved in the handling of my termination or related to those so involved, including any member of HRD or my management.
    Or: Granting the settlement I requested in Grievances (96-297, 96-298) without rehearing.
  • And: Letter of apology from those involved in the proceedings.
  • If you believe, as Ms. Thomas’ letter said, that this is proper justice, I will publish your opinion as such.
  • In addition to the hearing of this grievance, I would like to pose the following clarification:
  • Is the University of Michigan interested in dealing justly with their employees?
  • If so, isn’t the purpose of the review committee to ensure just resolutions to grievances? The Employee Relations Training book implies this by stating that one purpose is to "provide a channel for airing and resolving various problems and differences."
  • If this is not its purpose, what is the system I should have used?
  • Shouldn’t a body designed for administering justice be composed of objective, competent, neutral individuals as in most bodies designed for conflict resolution?
  • Shouldn’t there be an investigator chosen to make every reasonable effort to gather evidence, contact the aggrieved, the offenders and witnesses, obtain sworn statements, etc., in order to provide the information required for the review committee to make an informed decision? Since I was not contacted, I assume this never happened as happens in other bodies for administering justice?
  • Shouldn’t the University of Michigan be more interested in ascertaining the truth of allegations of, and resolving internally claims of incidents involving, racism, sexism, and other prejudices instead of requiring that the aggrieved " an external agency".

Because of my claim that my dismissal was based on racism, I had been assured by the office of the University President and Laurita Thomas that my case would be reviewed objectively and not just "put through the motions". I do not think any fair minded person would view the above practices as justice.

Your intervention is much appreciated.


February 14, 1997

11575 SW Pacific Highway
Suite 150
Tigard, OR 97223

Dear [Sir]

Dr. Homer Neal has asked me to respond to your January 11, 1997 letter to him. Many of the concerns in that letter have been previously addressed by Laurita Thomas, in a November 4, 1996 letter to you. Nonetheless, I will respond to each concern based on my investigation of the facts.

1. You indicated that you had no representative on the committee which heard your grievance. In fact, you had two formal grievances and agreed that they could be heard together. You selected a pool of six panel members who would be acceptable as your representative, and the University chose one of them, Mary Ann Drew. You were afforded only one representative because your grievances were heard together by a single committee. [Editor's Note: There was no substantiation of these statements. I protested their being heard together, which was the reason I gave 6 choices, none of which included Mary Ann Drew]

2. You have inquired as to why there was not a representative of the Affirmative Action Office on your grievance committee. Neither of your grievances alleged unlawful discrimination, which is the only circumstance in which a member of that office is included as a matter of course. [The pre-termination council admitted that my disciplinary letter and response The committee admitted prior to its adjourning that this was the only evidence which stood against me, evidence which documented the pressure I was under to practice stereotyping which is against the written rules of the University. Ms. McClain's investigation was obviously poor in that it did not discover this evidence.]

3. You also allege that it was improper for Jeanne Welton and Jan Mulcrone to participate in the grievance process. The written grievance procedure provides for the involvement of Human Resources in the grievance process. Jan Mulcrone represented the department. Jeanne Welton provided support to the committee because of her particular expertise in this matter. She took notes at the hearing and was able to provide background information regarding your employment including, for example, handouts provided by you at the pre-termination meeting. [Ms. McClain does not deny it is improper to have half the committee stocked with the defense and no representative of the grievant. Ms. Welton was a participant in the matter from start to finish, had a conflict of interest, and had her professionalism and position at risk. This is hardly the posture of an independent expert.]

For these reasons, the composition of the grievance committee was in accordance with SPG 201.8. [That says a lot about the SPG]

4. The entire commmittee agreed upon the final dispostion of your grievance, and expressly approved the written answer before it was issued. It is standard procedure for it to be signed by the representative of the Human Resources Department. This should not be interpreted to mean that the other committee members did not have input or agree with the outcome, which was not the case here. [Predictable outcome -- half are defending their jobs and the rest have a bias to save the reputation of the University]

5. Every effort was made in this case to meet your scheduling needs. You were living out of state during the pendency of your grievance, but agreed to September 6, 1996 as a date on which the grievance could be heard. Late in the day on September 5, 1996, you informed the Human Resources Department that you would not be available as previously stated. Since you were unable to attend, you agreed to have your grievances heard based on the facts known to the panel as presented in your grievance, as well as other information from your personnel file. [Ms. McClain provides no substantiation for any of these inaccuracies. I objected to the date when it was given to me. I have 5 witnesses who can attest that all day on 5 September I was providing humanitarian assistance to people living in Mexican dumps. They don't have electricity or shoes, no less a telephone with long-distance access to the University of Michigan. (-:]

The committee reviewed all the documentary information available with respect to your grievance. This included pre-termination meeting notes and handouts, the grievance form and all attachments you provided, your personnel file, and the relevant SPGs.

6. The University grievance procedure is not a formal court or administrative hearing. It is a management review process. The procedure does not provide for an opportunity to present witness or sworn statements. The committee relies on the grievant to present the information he would like them to rely on in deciding his grievance. [Finally an admission to the fact that the committee is not a justice system but a (risk?) management review process. Thus, their admission that they have no justice system. How can you have justice without a system to ensure it?]

7. Finally, you have alleged that you were not told the cause of your dismissal. The information that your termination was due to your inability to perform your job, and the specifics on which this conclusion was based, was [sic] conveyed to you during a pre-termination meeting held with you. At that meeting, you were presented with several issues surrounding your ability to perform in your role as manager. [Note that for the 4th time, they say, "specifics...was [sic] conveyed" but still refuse to say what they were.]

I regret that you were not satisfied with the outcome of the grievance procedure in this case, and hope this letter is responsive to your concerns.

Jackie R. McClain
Executive Director
Human Resources & Affirmative Action

If you believe that racism should be de-institutionalized, contact the people in this report. Ask them the questions I have. Let me know what they say. Have you experienced the same thing? Comments? Suggestions? Other nominations for the Hall of Shame? e-mail them to me.

I am considering opening up a page for resolving conflicts between supervisor and subordinate. Would this be valuable? me at e-mail address

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