Arlene Elizabeth Gorton, Faculty (interview 2 of 2)


An assistant professor of Anthropology and the only woman in her department when she was hired in 1968, Louise Lamphere was denied tenure in 1974. The Anthropology Department claimed that her scholarship was theoretically weak. Lamphere claimed she was the victim of sex discrimination and argued that the small number of women on the Brown faculty was evidence of a larger pattern of discrimination. After unsuccessfully pursuing an internal appeals process, on May 10, 1975 Lamphere filed a lawsuit in United States District Court.

Under the leadership of a new President, Howard Swearer, the University settled the case before trial, entering in September 1977 into an historic consent decree designed “to achieve on behalf of women full representativeness with respect to faculty employment at Brown.” Brown agreed to set up an Affirmative Action Monitoring Committee charged with overseeing the processes departments used to hire, promote, and tenure faculty in order to ensure fairness; evaluating searches for inclusivity; and monitoring progress toward full representation of women on the faculty. The Affirmative Action Monitoring Committee was in existence from 1978 to 1992 when by mutual consent the consent decree was vacated.

Conducted in 2014 as part of the Pembroke Center’s Louise Lamphere vs. Brown University exhibit for Brown’s 250th anniversary, this interview focuses on Arlene Gorton, then-tenured professor of physical education. Gorton was the head of the Faculty Policy Group who evaluated Lamphere’s grievance shortly after she was denied tenure. Gorton discusses her work on that committee and the way other professors treated her at the time. She claims that it was necessary for the case to go to court in order to affect change in the university.

See also: Arlene Elizabeth Gorton, class of 1952 (interview 1 of 2)


Recorded on April 15, 2014 at Brown University, Providence, RI
Interviewed by Amy Goldstein

Suggested Chicago style citation: Gorton, Arlene Elizabeth. Interview. By Amy Goldstein. Pembroke Center Oral History Project, Brown University. April 15, 2014.


Arlene Gorton graduated from Pembroke College in 1952 with an A.B. in English literature. While at Pembroke she played softball and badminton, captaining the softball team her senior year and ranking as the top singles badminton player. After graduating, Gorton went to the University of North Carolina for two years, before returning to New England where she taught at Connecticut College for seven years. In 1961, she returned to Pembroke as the Director of Physical Education and as a professor in the Physical Education department. After the Pembroke-Brown merger in 1971, Gorton was demoted to Assistant Athletic Director, a position she filled until retiring in 1998. During her nearly forty years at Brown University, she fought to give women greater athletic opportunities through better facilities and more financial support. She was awarded the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletic Administrators Division I Administrator of the Year in 1998.