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USyd settles in legal claim with former Deputy Vice-Chancellor

The University has declined to disclose how much the legal suit cost.

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USyd has settled a legal claim laid by former Deputy Vice-Chancellor Shane Houston, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Dr Houston claims rumours of a relationship with a junior male colleague were behind his dismissal in August last year.

Dr Houston denied the rumours and alleges that he complained to human resources department and Vice-Chancellor Michael Spence multiple times. Despite this, the University did very little in response.

At the time, USyd maintained that “Professor Houston’s departure from the University was related to a number of issues; best summarised as a developing management style that was both deeply inappropriate and incompatible with a publicly funded institution.”

However, a number of days before he was dismissed, Dr Houston received an email flagging concerns about his close personal relationship with another male member of staff, Honi reported.

After being dismissed, he lodged a legal suit against the university claiming $1 million in compensation.

Dr Houston, a Gangulu man from central Queensland, broke ground as one of the first Aboriginal people to be appointed at such a senior level at any university in Australia.

In his role, Dr Houston pioneered a number of projects including the University’s Wingara Mura – Bunga Barrabuga Strategy, which has seen substantial increases in the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff and students at the University.

The University has declined to comment on how much the final settlement cost. A spokesperson said “the university has settled Dr Houston’s claim for a sum considerably less than it would have cost to defend the action.”