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March 20, 2015

Denial of tenure


Denial of tenure
2015 NY Slip Op 02193, Appellate Division, First Department

A member of a college faculty [Petitioner] filed an Article 75 action challenging an arbitration award that sustained the college’s decision to deny awarding Petitioner tenure. Supreme Court granted the college’s cross motion to confirm the arbitration award, which decision was unanimously affirmed by the Appellate Division.

The Appellate Division explained that an arbitrator's award will not be vacated "unless it is violative of a strong public policy, or is totally irrational, or exceeds a specifically enumerated limitation on his power."

Here, said the court, Petitioner has not carried her "heavy burden" in claiming that the arbitrator's decision upholding the college’s determination that tenure was not warranted based on the lack of scholarly publication was "totally irrational." The court noted that Petitioner's claim that the college did not provide adequate notice of any alleged deficiencies is unavailing, as the college's bylaws, as well as the relevant collective bargaining agreement, provided notice that “publication requirements were rigorous and progressive.”

Further, according to the decision, the college had sent Petitioner a “letter of concern” approximately five months before the tenure process, one year before her appeal, and fifteen months before the college president issued her final determination. This, said the court, “provided adequate notice” explaining that as stated by the arbitrator, the fact that Petitioner "may not have received notice prior to [receiving a letter of concern] was based on her own [earlier] misstatements as to her publications...."

In addition, the Appellate Division held that college president’s evaluation of the quality and quantity of Petitioner's publications was a proper exercise of academic judgment, citing Pauk v Board of Higher Educ. of City of N.Y., 62 AD2d 660, affirmed 48 NY2d 930.

Concerning another issue, the court said that the record “provides no basis for a finding that [the college] denied [Petitioner] tenure in retaliation for her harassment claim against a department chair.”

The decision is posted on the Internet at:


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