Former IUP dean fined for ethics violation received $290,000 discrimination settlement from university
The Pennsylvania Ethics Commission last week fined a former Indiana University of Pennsylvania administrator $3,000 for repeatedly hiring her son’s firm for university business and neglecting to file accurate financial disclosure statements, actions deemed technical violations of the state Ethics Act.
But former IUP Associate Dean of Student Affairs Carolyn Princes’ fine was tiny next to the $290,000 IUP and a state insurance fund paid Princes just weeks earlier to settle a federal civil rights suit accusing IUP officials of racial, gender and age discrimination in her 2015 demotion and subsequent termination in 2016.
Princes’ attorneys and lawyers with the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office quietly settled her 2017 discrimination suit in November. Public records on file with the state Department of General Services showed $250,000 was paid from a state insurance fund; another $40,000 came from IUP.
Officials at IUP declined to comment on Princes’ lawsuit or the ethics complaint.
“We do not discuss personnel matters,” IUP spokeswoman Michelle Fryling said.
Princes, who is president of the Indiana chapter of the NAACP, did not return calls for comment.
Her lawsuit and a lengthy Ethics Commission filing outline the dispute that became a part of both complaints.
IUP hired Princes, now 69, in 1990 as director of the university’s African American Cultural Center, a post she maintained throughout her various promotions, until her termination in January 2016.
State records show Princes was collecting a salary of $77,625 a year in May 2015 when she said she was demoted as part of a reorganization, stripped of her title as associate dean of student affairs and told to vacate her office and find another space so the associate vice president of student affairs could move in.
In her suit, Princes said two colleagues were promoted ahead of her and she was told to report to a “younger, white female colleague,” who had less in the way of experience and educational credentials.
Princes filed a complaint with the EEOC, accusing IUP of racial and age discrimination and retaliation. She then requested medical leave for the fall semester.
At about the same time, Princes signed a contract with Prince Management Group LLC to bring a comedian to perform at IUP’s African American Cultural Center. Princes said two prior contracts with her son’s firm were approved without question, but this one was not.
When she returned to IUP in March 2016, Princes said she was promptly suspended without pay for 30 days because she taught two days a week at Penn State while collecting sick pay. The same day, she said, she received a letter informing her she was being fired for contracting with a family member in violation of the state Ethics Act.
Princes said her treatment was far harsher than IUP’s reaction to reports the university spent $32,743 on a computer contract with the wife of the former dean of the College of Health and Human Services.
She quoted a 2015 Tribune-Review report that said after the arrangement was disclosed, Mark Correia, a white male, was demoted but permitted to remain on the payroll as a tenured professor in the criminology department.
Princes filed suit against IUP in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh in September 2017 after the EEOC issued a letter confirming her right to sue for discrimination.
Deb Erdley is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Deb at 724-850-1209, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .