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GARVEY v. DICKINSON COLLEGE
August 23, 1991
SHEILA HICKEY GARVEY, PLAINTIFF,
DICKINSON COLLEGE, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: McCLURE, District Judge.
Plaintiff Sheila Garvey alleges in this Title VII action*fn1
that she was sexually harassed and subjected to discrimination
from 1985 to 1987 while she was employed as a professor of
drama at Dickinson College ("Dickinson") in Carlisle,
Pennsylvania. In addition to Dickinson, Garvey names George
Allan, Ph.D., as a defendant. Garvey alleges that Dickinson
retaliated against her*fn2 by refusing to renew her teaching
contract because she reported incidents of sexual harassment
allegedly perpetrated by David Peck, her immediate supervisor
and chairman of the drama department from 1985 to 1987.
The non-jury trial concluded June 17, 1991, and both sides
presented extensive evidence. Plaintiff presented testimony
from several witnesses in her case in chief. She testified on
her own behalf and also introduced testimony from Susan
Feldman, Ph.D., David Brubaker, Susan Nichols, Brad Bortner,
Sandor Biro, Ph.D., Sigurd Jensen, and Thomas J. Peterson.
Feldman is a professor of philosophy at Dickinson. Brubaker was
chairman of the drama department at Dickinson and served as
plaintiff's immediate supervisor from 1981 to 1985. Nichols is
an associate dean at Dickinson and served as the affirmative
action officer at Dickinson from 1985 through 1987. Brad
Bortner was a student in the Dickinson drama department who was
graduated in 1988. Biro is a set designer, who worked in the
drama department at Dickinson during the Fall 1986 semester.
Jensen is chairman of the theater department at Southern
Connecticut State University ("SCSU"), where plaintiff
currently teaches. Peterson is a professor of drama at SCSU.
Plaintiff presented only her own testimony on rebuttal.
In their case in chief, defendants presented testimony from
Dean Allan, Margaret Garrett, Truman Bullard, Ph.D., James
Drake, David Kranz, Ph.D. and Christine Villardo. Allan is the
dean at Dickinson. Garrett is an assistant dean. Bullard is
chairman of the music department at Dickinson and served on one
of the committees which evaluated plaintiff for contract
renewal. Kranz is a professor of english at Dickinson who also
served on one of the committees which evaluated plaintiff for
contract renewal. Drake and Villardo are both members of the
Dickinson drama department. Drake is a set designer, and
Villardo teaches dance. Defendants presented no sur-rebuttal
Both sides also presented extensive documentary evidence.
After considering all of the evidence presented, we find that
Garvey was not discharged in retaliation for reporting Peck's
alleged sexual harassment of female faculty and students. We
further find that the reason for her termination was the
college's dissatisfaction with the quality of her work. Any
claim based on the alleged incidents of harassment perpetrated
by Peck against Garvey is barred by the statute of limitations.
Based on these findings, we conclude that defendants did not
violate federal or state anti-discrimination law, and will
enter judgment in their favor. We will address the matter of
attorneys' fees in a separate order after the parties have had
an opportunity to brief the issues.
Based upon the evidence presented at trial, the court makes
the following findings of fact.
Contract Renewal Decisions
1. Evaluations for faculty renewal are conducted according to
standards and procedures published in the Faculty Handbook
("handbook"). The handbook states that a professor's
accomplishments in three areas, namely, teaching, scholarship,
and community service (listed in descending order of
importance), are considered in evaluating performance and
deciding whether contract renewal is appropriate. Professors on
a tenure track are typically evaluated at two-year intervals.
2. Factors which play a role in the evaluation of teaching
include course content and organization, teaching style and
methods. To gauge these factors, evaluators typically observe
classes taught by the professor, review the course syllabus,
speak with students in the class, and review course evaluation
reports completed by the students.
3. Factors which play a role in the evaluation of scholarship
include the number and quality of publications by the professor
and other accomplishments which demonstrate mastery in his or
her chosen field. In the field of drama, renewal candidates may
be judged in this area on the basis of acting or performing, as
well as other scholarly endeavors.
4. Factors which play a role in the evaluation of community
service include service on college interdepartmental
committees, and participation in community service
5. The college follows a three-tier system of review.
Typically, the department chairperson makes a recommendation to
the Faculty Personnel Committee ("FPC"), a standing committee
whose function it is to conduct a further review and report its
findings and recommendation on contract renewal to Dean Allan.
6. Dean Allan then, typically, meets with the professor, who
has had an opportunity to submit a personal activities
statement ("PAS") indicating what he believes his significant
accomplishments have been since the last renewal evaluation.
The dean then typically reviews the PAS with the professor and
also discusses the recommendation and findings of the FPC.
Based on all of the information then before him, the Dean
decides whether contract renewal is appropriate.
7. The administration's dissatisfaction with Garvey's
performance at Dickinson dates back to her first evaluation
conducted in 1983. At that time, the FPC noted serious
weaknesses in her teaching, principally her disorganization and
seeming inability to communicate the subject matter to students
with clarity and conviction.
8. Similar deficiencies were noted in her 1985 evaluation.
The FPC found her teaching disorganized, uninspired,
unchallenging and "unevenly effective" and her directing
similarly disorganized, ineffectual, at times. Troubled by
these deficiencies, the FPC recommended that her teaching
contract not be renewed. (D49).*fn3 Directing student
theatrical productions was an important part of Garvey's
responsibilities as a drama professor.
9. Although the Dean ultimately decided not to follow the
FPC's negative recommendation, he advised Garvey in the letter
informing her of his decision to renew her teaching contract
for another two-year term that the deficiencies noted by the
FPC would have to be "substantially cleared up" by the next
10. Garvey's next renewal evaluation was conducted during the
1986-87 school year. Due to the uneasy relationship between her
and Peck, as well as to the fact that neither of them had
tenure, and both were, in a sense, competing for tenure, Peck
did not evaluate her performance. Instead, an Ad Hoc Committee
was appointed to perform the initial, preliminary evaluation
and submit a report to the FPC. The Ad Hoc Committee consisted
of Dean Garrett, Truman Bullard and David Kranz. Garvey voiced
no objection to this procedure or to the make-up of the
11. After attending Garvey's classes, interviewing several of
her students, viewing play rehearsals she directed, viewing a
production she directed, and reviewing the course evaluations
completed by her students, the Ad Hoc Committee found serious
deficiencies in her teaching and directing. (Directing student
productions constituted an important facet of Garvey's duties.)
Committee members found that she did not make good use of class
time, that there appeared to be no overall purpose, direction
or plan for the class, that students did not appear to have a
clear understanding of what they were doing, and that an
overall conceptual framework for the course was lacking.
12. Garvey's performance in the other two areas of review,
scholarship and community service, was judged to be somewhat
more satisfactory, although there were some criticisms noted in
those areas as well. The evaluators were troubled by the fact
that her writing projects appeared to lack direction and focus,
that she had changed direction several times and seemingly did
not follow through on goals she set out to achieve. They were
also troubled by her continuing inability or unwillingness to
cooperate and work effectively with other members of her
department and to put aside personal differences to work toward
a team goal for the good of the students.
13. Based on these findings, the Ad Hoc Committee voted
unanimously not to renew Garvey's teaching for another term and
submitted its negative recommendation to the FPC.
14. At Garvey's suggestion, the FPC retained an outside
evaluator to critique one of the student productions to gauge
her competency as a director. The evaluator was a member of the
American College Theater Festival — an organization which
reviews college productions and whose members participate in
evaluating such productions in a competition for the best
college production nationwide. The evaluator, Alice Robinson,
did not submit a favorable report on Garvey's production.
Robinson found the choice of plays inappropriate and found that
the production lacked direction and purpose.
15. After reviewing the findings of the Ad Hoc Committee and
conducting its own inquiry, the FPC determined that it would
not recommend renewal to the Dean.
16. Dean Allan, confronted with negative recommendations from
both the Faculty Personnel Committee and the Ad Hoc Committee,
decided that Garvey's contract would not be renewed.
17. Garvey appealed the dean's decision to the Academic
Freedom and Tenure Committee, and it affirmed the decision.
18. Garvey filed a complaint with the Pennsylvania Human
Relations Committee ("PHRC") on August 18, 1987.
19. Garvey filed a complaint with the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission ...