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Sola v. Lafayette College

argued: August 8, 1986.

JANET L. SOLA, APPELLANT
v.
LAFAYETTE COLLEGE, DAVID W. ELLIS AND HOWARD GALLOP



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania - Philadelphia, D.C. Civil No. 84-4406.

Author: Seitz

Opinion OF THE COURT

Before SEITZ, ADAMS and STAPLETON, Circuit Judges.

SEITZ, Circuit Judge.

The plaintiff, Janet Sola, appeals the order of the district court granting the motion for summary judgment of the defendants. Lafayette College, its president and the Chairman of the Pyschology Department, on her claims arising out of a denial of tenure. Jurisdiction in the district court was based on diversity of citizenship. We have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. ยง 1291.

I.

Janet Sola became an assistant professor of psychology at Lafayette College in 1976. In 1982 Sola applied for tenure at the college.

Tenure decisions at the college are governed by the college's Faculty Handbook and section 70 of the college Statutes. Under the procedures set forth by the personnel manuals, tenure determinations are first made by the Appointments, Promotions and Dismissals Committee (the "AP&D Committee"). After reviewing the record of the tenure candidate, which includes the recommendation of the department chairperson, the AP&D Committee makes a recommendation to the President. If the AP&D Committee's decision is adverse, the candidate may appeal the decision to the President of the college or request that the committee reconsider its recommendation. The President makes a final recommendation to the college's Board of Trustees.

The Faculty Handbook sets forth the following criteria for tenure decisions:

Appointments and promotions are made on the basis of merit and in consideration of departmental and institutional characteristics. These latter include, but are not restricted to, enrollment trends, the need for a desirable mix of specialties, the tenure guidelines, the principles of Affirmative Action, economic priorities, and other relevant needs.

A major factor in the tenure decision is the recommendation of the department chairperson. Under the guidelines in the Faculty Handbook, the recommendation of the department chairperson is to include "a statement indicating his judgment as to the probable effect of the promotion or award of tenure to the candidate on other members of the department." At the time that Sola's tenure decision was rendered, the AP&D Committee was bound to a tenure quota in which not more than two-thirds of a department could be tenured faculty members, absent an exceptional "guideline breaking" candidate.

The Chairman of the Psychology Department, Dr. Howard Gallop, recommended that Janet Sola receive tenure. His recommendation, however, was not unqualified. He noted that a male professor, whom he viewed as stronger than Sola, would come up for tenure within the next three years, and that a decision on Sola's application should not jeopardize this professor's candidacy. If Sola had been granted tenure, the Psychology Department would have had the maximum number of tenured professors under the tenure quota.

The AP&D Committee voted preliminarily in favor of granting Sola tenure. The next day, however, the final vote was a tie, which resulted in a denial of tenure under college procedures.*fn1

Sola appealed the decision to the President of the college. An Advisory Committee was formed, consisting of three professors, one chosen by the provost, one by Sola, and the third by the other two professors. The Committee expressed its concern that the record did not have sufficient information to substantiate Dr. Gallop's comparison of the two professors and recommended that the tenure decision be reconsidered. After requesting ...


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