SETTLEMENT: 1977

The Department of Anthropology correspondence was not the only factor in Brown’s decision to settle the case. A new president, Howard Swearer, arrived at Brown in early 1977, and Lamphere and her co-plaintiffs soon met with him to discuss the possibility of settlement, emphasizing that systemic relief would be necessary, not just a response to their individual claims.

In April 1977, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit declined to overturn the District Court’s certification of a class action, making it clear to Brown that the class action would not go away before trial. Settlement discussions began in March 1977 and culminated in a landmark consent decree provisionally entered in September 1977 and made final in March 1978.

In finally entering the Consent Decree on March 6, 1978, Chief Judge Pettine held that the settlement came only after “voluminous... discovery,” with the two sides “well aware of the strengths and weaknesses of their respective cases,” and that “[T]he proposed settlement addresses nearly every aspect of relief prayed for in Plaintiff ’s amended Complaint . . . [and] is fair, reasonable, and adequate.”

Click document to read full text Brown University Archives

Click document to read full text
Brown University Archives


Consent Decree

The Consent Decree enjoined Brown from discriminating against women on the basis of sex with respect to terms and conditions of employment, including hiring and promotion to tenure. In addition, it established goals and timetables for hiring women at all faculty levels in proportion to the number of Ph.D.s in each discipline. Until the goals were met, departments had to give preference to a female candidate of equal qualifications over non-minority males.


The Consent Decree also required each department to adopt “detailed, clear, objective, and fair” written criteria for hiring, contract renewal, promotion to tenure and other promotions, and for teaching, scholarship, and university service. It required departments to conduct a “wide geographical search” calculated to “identify and encourage the maximum number of qualified women and other protected groups as possible” before filling a faculty position.


In addition, the Consent Decree established an Affirmative Action Monitoring Committee to implement and enforce the Decree. Finally, as a result of recommendations of scholars external to Brown and of a faculty committee, Brown agreed to award tenure to the three named plaintiffs, Louise Lamphere, Claude Carey, and Helen Cserr, and the Consent Decree accordingly included their tenure among its provisions.

Click document to read full text Lamphere v. Brown University, C.A. 74-0140, D.R.I., National Archives at Boston

Click document to read full text
Lamphere v. Brown University, C.A. 74-0140, D.R.I., National Archives at Boston


Pages from the Consent Decree entered on September 12, 1977, with annotations by Anne Fausto-Sterling. Brown University Archives