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ROSS v. PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIV.

January 6, 1978

THOMAS J. ROSS, Plaintiff
v.
PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIVERSITY, et al., Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: MUIR

 Ross has filed this complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that the Defendants have violated his due process rights pursuant to the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution because they dismissed him as a graduate student in the field of ceramic science at the Pennsylvania State University without a hearing and deprived him of a position as a graduate assistant at Pennsylvania State University without a prior hearing. The parties at a pre-trial conference held November 1, 1977 informed the Court that they would submit this case to it on the basis of stipulated facts concerning the question of liability. If liability is found, the parties agreed that the question of damages and equitable remedies would be presented at a subsequent session of Court. The Court on November 1, 1977 indicated that it would accept pendent jurisdiction as to Ross' contention that the actions of the Defendants violated his state law contract rights but that it would dismiss the defamation claim. The following are the Court's findings of fact, discussion and conclusions of law.

 I. Findings of Fact.

 1. Defendant, The Pennsylvania State University, is an educational corporation chartered by the legislature of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1855.

 2. There is no issue in this case with respect to the existence of state action. For the purpose of this lawsuit and this lawsuit only state action is not contested.

 3. Defendant, John W. Oswald is President of the University and in that capacity is charged with the overall management and governance of the Pennsylvania State University.

 4. Defendant, Guy E. Rindone, is employed by the University as a Professor of Ceramic Science and is Chairman of the Ceramic Science Section of the Department of Material Sciences, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, of the Pennsylvania State University, and resides in Centre County, Pennsylvania.

 5. Defendant, Richard C. Bradt, is employed by the University as a Professor of Ceramic Science, in the Ceramic Sciences Section of the Department of Material Sciences, within the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences of the Pennsylvania State University and resides in Centre County, Pennsylvania.

 6. Defendant, Charles E. Galgoci is employed by the Pennsylvania State University as Assistant to the Dean of the Graduate School, and resides in Centre County, Pennsylvania.

 7. Defendant, James B. Bartoo is employed by the Pennsylvania State University as Dean of the Graduate School, and resides in Centre County, Pennsylvania.

 8. Plaintiff, Thomas J. Ross, is an individual residing at Camp Hill, Pennsylvania.

 9. Plaintiff graduated from Drexel University in June of 1976 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering.

 10. Plaintiff was mailed an Admission Notification and Authorization to Enroll dated March 19, 1976 from the Pennsylvania State University.

 11. Plaintiff was a candidate for the Master of Science degree in the field of Ceramic Science.

 12. In a letter dated March 19, 1976, addressed to Plaintiff and signed by Guy E. Rindone, Plaintiff was offered a halftime graduate assistantship carrying a stipend of $4032.00 for the calendar year on a National Aeronautics and Space Administration Impact Project dealing with impact and high temperature stress of silicone carbide, said project under the direction of Richard C. Bradt. The assistantship was tuition free. In addition, the program is considered by the Internal Revenue as a tax free gift to the student. It was stated that the assistantship would commence with the summer term, June 7, 1976.

 13. The research work to be performed by Ross for the graduate assistantship was to be utilized as Ross' thesis research in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the Master of Science degree.

 14. By letter dated March 29, 1976, Plaintiff accepted the offer of Defendant Rindone as specified in Defendant Rindone's letter of March 19, 1976.

 15. Plaintiff attended the Pennsylvania State University as a graduate student in the Ceramic Sciences program of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences for the Summer, 1976 academic term and the Fall, 1976 academic term.

 16. The grant renewal proposal #NSG-3016 submitted by Richard C. Bradt with respect to the project in which Plaintiff was engaged and said proposal submitted January 9, 1976 outlined objectives for three years. The document also stated that a graduate student would be obtained to replace H. Abe by June, 1976 and this student would do a M.S. thesis on the high temperature strength and creep testing of the materials as outlined in the original proposal. This student was Tom Ross, Plaintiff. The actual grant was for a period of one year commencing June, 1976. A renewal contract was granted for the year commencing June, 1977.

 17. By letter dated November 29, 1976 Defendant Rindone informed Ross that commencing with the Winter Term, 1976-77, Plaintiff would be terminated as a graduate student for poor scholarship.

 19. On the basis of an oral request from Dr. Rindone, Defendant Galgoci issued a Prevent Registration Notice over the signature of Ernest H. Ludwig, Associate Dean of the Graduate School which prevented Plaintiff from registering as a student for the Winter Term, 1976-77.

 20. A copy of Defendant Rindone's letter of termination was forwarded to the office of Associate Dean Ludwig and on the basis of Rindone's letter, Dean Ludwig directed on December 15, 1976 that the note "program terminated by Department, 11/29/76" be entered on the Graduate School transcript of Plaintiff.

 21. The rules P-22 to P-29 of the Academic Rules adopted by the University Faculty Senate, relating to unsatisfactory scholarship, were not applied or utilized in the termination of Plaintiff as a graduate student for unsatisfactory scholarship.

 22. There is no University Policy which provides for or permits a hearing for a graduate student who is terminated for unsatisfactory scholarship.

 23. The Plaintiff was not provided with the opportunity for a hearing with respect to the action of Defendant Rindone terminating ...


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