Wednesday, December 10, 2014

UMass Lowell: Age Discrimination is Wrong

I wanted to share with you an important and difficult announcement. My mother, Prof. Mitra Das, started teaching at the University of Massachusetts Lowell in 1972 and became a tenured member of the faculty in 1979. She has nurtured the University's mission to educate its students and promoted its best interests during her more than forty-two years of service. Over the past several weeks, she made the difficult decision to sue the University for age discrimination. I cannot be more proud of her.

I did not initially believe that the institution that mom has spent the bulk of her adult life and professional career -- and a place I used to wander with amazement as a child -- had grown hostile to older faculty. Alas, after observing the legal process, which has included interviews with nearly a dozen faculty members at Lowell and analyzing the huge evidentiary trail, it now appears clear that there is a war being waged against older faculty members by the administration, and particularly by Dean Luis Falcon and Provost Ahmed Abdelal.

At an age when many of her peers have given in to the hostile work environment being created at Lowell and have retired under duress, I am so darn proud that my mother -- my intellectual and spiritual role model, has not. Universities are made stronger when they embrace both the innovation of youth and the wisdom of experience, and I feel more alive today because mom is standing up for those principles. Good luck, mother, on your fight. I know you will prevail, and we will all be better as a society for your efforts. You have always taught me to stand by my core principles. I love you for doing just that.

Prof. Mitra Das at the beginning of her teaching career at Lowell State College
(now the University of Massachusetts Lowell) in 1972

Prof. Mitra Das in her last few months as Chairperson of the Department of Sociology
at University of Massachusetts Lowell. She has served as Chairperson of the Department
of Sociology over three different periods, the first from 1987 – 1993, the second in 2004,
and most recently from 2011 - 2014, under the leadership of five different deans