Nos. 376 and 377 APRIL TERM, 1979, Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Civil Division, No. GD 79-3476.
Paul A. Manion, Pittsburgh, for Duquesne University of Holy Ghost and Henry J. McAnulty.
Daniel H. Shapira, Pittsburgh, for Ronald R. Davenport.
Jack W. Plowman, Pittsburgh, for appellees Basial et al.
Cavanaugh, Hoffman and Van der Voort, JJ.
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Appellants contend that the lower court erred in dismissing their preliminary objections to appellees' complaint in equity because the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction. We disagree and, accordingly, affirm the order of the court below.
Appellant Ronald R. Davenport is the dean of the law school of appellant Duquesne University of the Holy Ghost (University). In October of 1978, the University's vice president for academic affairs solicited the views of the full-time law school faculty regarding the reappointment of Dean Davenport. Eight of the fourteen faculty members strongly opposed the reappointment.*fn1 Nonetheless, on January 2, 1979, the University's president, appellant Henry J. McAnulty, reappointed Dean Davenport for a five year term beginning July 1, 1980. Appellees, the eight law school faculty members who opposed the reappointment, then instituted an equity action in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, seeking, inter alia, an injunction directing the University and President McAnulty to revoke the reappointment and to initiate procedures for the appointment of a new dean. Appellees averred that in reappointing Dean Davenport over the opposition of a majority of the faculty members, the University and President McAnulty violated the American Bar Association Standards for Approval of Law Schools (ABA Standards) and the Association of American Law Schools Bylaws (AALS Bylaws) which were incorporated into appellees' University employment contracts.*fn2 ABA Standard 402(a)(iii) requires law schools to provide "adequate opportunity for effective participation by the faculty in the governance of the law school." Appellees' complaint averred that the ABA has interpreted that standard
[ 278 Pa. Super. Page 358]
as "mandat[ing] that a dean not be appointed over the objections of a majority of the faculty." The AALS Bylaws provide: "Except in rare cases and for compelling reasons, no decanal or faculty appointment or change in faculty status will be made over the expressed opposition of the faculty (acting as a whole or by a representative portion determined by reasonable criteria)." Art. 6, § 6-1, para. 4(c)(iii). Appellees alleged that President McAnulty's action in reappointing Dean Davenport breached each appellee's employment contract and that an equity action was proper because they did not have an adequate remedy at law.
Appellants filed preliminary objections to the complaint, alleging, inter alia, that the common pleas court did not have subject matter jurisdiction over this case. In support of their contention, appellants alleged that appellees had agreed in their employment contracts to abide by all of the ABA Standards and AALS Bylaws, including provisions establishing internal procedures for resolving disputes such as this one.*fn3 Additionally, appellants contended that the
[ 278 Pa. Super. Page 359]
University has a procedure for resolving internal disputes between faculty members ...