OU professor resigns from “toxic environment” after requesting the same pay as male colleague

NORMAN, Okla. - Current and former students in the journalism program at the University of Oklahoma are buzzing about the retirement of longtime professor Judy Gibbs Robinson.

"First I got an email from her over Christmas break saying she was leaving the university," said junior Katelyn Howard. "There was really no warning."

But Wednesday, the experienced instructor outlined her reasoning on Facebook.

“I accepted a retirement incentive effective Jan. 4 rather than return to a job that had become increasingly intolerable since I requested equal pay with a male colleague for the same work," Gibbs Robinson wrote. “Ultimately, the toxic environment proved too much. So I got out.”

Gibbs Robinson is a longtime adviser of the OU Daily; students with the publication, as well as their student media director, declined to comment.

"It really felt sadly unsurprising based on everything that has been happening on this campus especially in the last year," said senior Devin Hiett. "We don’t have all of the information yet but it was not that surprising to see women being structurally discriminated against at the University of Oklahoma."

Hiett worked under the professor at the OU Daily, and works under Dr. Suzette Grillott as well, the recently-demoted dean that made headlines when she asked for University President Jim Gallogly's resignation.

"It's frustrating, it feels like our allies are being taken out one by one," said Hiett. "I think that we, right now, have an administration that really does not value a wide array of opinions. I think women that are outspoken and willing to fight for transparency and diversity and equality on this campus are getting pushed aside, especially under the Gallogly administration and Provost [Kyle] Harper."

Students tell News 4 that she is a strong presence that will be missed at OU's Gaylord Hall, home of the journalism school, where she was one of few female leaders.

"She never really backs down whenever there is someone trying to intimidate her or come her way," said Howard. "So for that reason, she really shown me how to be a strong independent female journalist. It's sad she’s left the university."

Gibbs Robinson said the university gives "lip service" to qualities like gender equality, but said that isn't true in execution.

“In Student Media, the director told me he wouldn't level the playing field because he "didn't have to." OU's Equal Opportunity office saw none of that as retaliation,” her post read. “I want other women to know the huge cost of seeking workplace equity. It shouldn't be that way.”

The retired professor's Facebook post was commented on and shared dozens of times by former students and colleagues, expressing gratitude for her commitment to education and frustration at the environment she described at the university.

Gibbs Robinson declined to comment to News 4 at this time. We reached out to the university's public relations office; their response read, in part, "OU does not discuss its employees or their work histories publicly in the media. This is to assure individual employees confidentiality."

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