Graduation speaker selection riles faculty

ATHENS, Ga. --- Some University of Georgia faculty members are concerned having U.S Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas as the institution's graduation speaker sends the wrong message after a year of sexual harassment scandals on campus.


The university announced Friday that Justice Thomas would be the commencement speaker, setting off rounds of angry and frustrated e-mails between faculty members.

Justice Thomas, a Georgia native, faced a bitterly contested confirmation process for his appointment to the Supreme Court in 1991 after his former employee, Anita Hill, accused him of sexual harassment.

Some faculty members said they were outraged that the university would ask Justice Thomas to speak when UGA has been facing criticism that administrators have been slow to address sexual harassment complaints filed against faculty members.

UGA spokesman Tom Jackson said Justice Thomas has a close relationship with the School of Law and has visited campus several times to give lectures.

"We're honored to have an associate justice of the Supreme Court bringing our commencement address," Mr. Jackson said.

At UGA, three professors have resigned since September because of sexual harassment complaints.

Last month, UGA President Michael Adams announced he is establishing three ombudsman positions to focus on the complaints and creating a women's center on campus.