White Professor Sues Tuskegee University for Age and Race Discrimination

A White professor at historically Black Tuskegee University in Alabama has filed a lawsuit against the university charging age and racial discrimination.

Marshall Burns, who has taught physics at the university for more than 40 years, claims that he is paid $18,000 to $30,000 less than younger scholars with less seniority. Dr. Burns joined the faculty at the university in 1976, was promoted to associate professor in 1978, and to full professor in 1980. Yet, according to the lawsuit, his annual salary of $60,500, is akin to what an associate professor at the university would receive. Dr. Burns said he has requested a salary raise at least 12 times.

At a news conference, Dr. Burns stated “I’m not a greedy person. I applaud people who are successful. They’ve earned it. I think I’ve earned it, but I haven’t received it. I have tried and tried and tried everything I know.”

Related Articles


  1. Context: “That same year[1989], Burns’ lawsuit claims that when the school was seeking more money from the legislature, it was his “level of scholarship, and his white race, [that] helped Tuskegee University succeed in obtaining additional funding from more conservative legislators.”

    He feels 30 years ago because he brought more funding to the school he should be compensated.

    However what relevant real world applications can he provide Millennials? He got his degree in the 70s when physics was probably considered witchcraft.

    The younger talent coming in far exceed that 1970s education. We can argue experience, but he’s been behind the podium for 40 years.

    I once beat out 2 very well qualified post- doctoral scholars for an nursing adjunct professor position. Both spoke very highly of their teaching experience of over 20 years. When asked “Why should I hire you?” I confidently said “I have real world experience. When I leave this interview, I’m not going to teach in a classroom, I’m putting on Scrubs and going to see patients at the clinic.”

    Students and Employees need that type of “EXPERIENCE”, adopting new forward thinking ideas not age old theory that has gotten us no where. No data, no metrics or measures of success.

Leave a Reply

Get the JBHE Weekly Bulletin

Receive our weekly email newsletter delivered to your inbox

Latest News

Two Black Scholars Appointed to Faculty Positions

The new faculty are Esther Jones at Brown University and Dagmawi Woubshet at the University of Pennsylvania.

Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision is Established at Bowie State University

"The new program will help to increase the number of counselor educators within the counseling field and the number of competent Black counselor educators," says Dr. Otis Williams, chair of the Bowie State University department of counseling and psychological studies.

Elizabeth City State University Partners With the University of Tennessee Health Science Center to Increase Representation of Black Graduate...

"We are excited by this partnership with UT Health Science Center and the opportunities this brings to our students who wish to pursue advanced degrees," said Kuldeep Rawat, dean of the Elizabeth City State University School of Science, Health and Technology.

Kimberly White-Smith Honored for Outstanding Contributions to Teacher Education

“Through her leadership and scholarship, Dr. White-Smith inspires a new generation of teachers to serve students and approach their work with equity, compassion, and respect,” said Gail F. Baker, provost and senior vice president at the University of San Diego. 

Featured Jobs