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Stewart v. Rutgers

July 25, 1997

JANICE P. STEWART,

APPELLANT,

v.

RUTGERS, THE STATE UNIVERSITY; JOSEPH J. SENECA, CHAIR, PROMOTION AND REVIEW COMMITTEE; FRANCIS L. LAWRENCE, PRESIDENT, RUTGERS UNIVERSITY



APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY

(D.C. Civil No. 95-cv-04373)

BEFORE: NYGAARD and LEWIS, Circuit Judges and SCHWARZER, *fn* District Judge.

LEWIS, Circuit Judge.

Filed July 25, 1997

ARGUED JANUARY 22, 1997

OPINION OF THE COURT

Janice P. Stewart appeals from the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey; Joseph J. Seneca, chair of its Promotion and Review Committee ("PRC"); and Francis L. Lawrence, president of Rutgers (collectively "Rutgers") on her racial discrimination claim initiated pursuant to 42 U.S.C. Section(s) 1981(c), and her Equal Protection claim brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. Section(s) 1983. She argues that the record contains evidence from which a jury could conclude: (1) that the rejection of her 1994-95 tenure bid was motivated by racial discrimination; and (2) that Rutgers' proffered legitimate nondiscriminatory reasons for not granting tenure to her are not worthy of credence.

For the reasons that follow, we will reverse the district court's grant of summary judgment as to both of Stewart's claims.

I.

Dr. Janice P. Stewart, who is black, was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Learning and Teaching at the Graduate School of Education at Rutgers University, New Brunswick campus. From the 1990-1991 academic year to the 1994-1995 academic year, Rutgers considered 368 faculty members for tenure, of whom 238 were granted tenure, a success rate of sixty-five percent. During Stewart's employment at Rutgers, no black person was ever granted tenure in her department. Joint Appendix ("JA") at 695. The only black person to be granted tenure in the Department of Learning and Teaching was a professor who was hired from another university with tenure. Id. Except for that person, there has not been a tenured black member of the department for over twenty years. JA at 797.

Rutgers makes tenure decisions by considering the teaching, service and scholarship of the tenure applicant. Several factors are considered when evaluating scholarship: peer evaluations, research, presentation of papers, fellowship and grant awards and publication of books and articles. No single factor is dispositive.

Rutgers' procedure for considering applicants for the position of Associate Professor with tenure, described in the 1994-95 "Academic Reappointment/Promotion Instructions," *fn1 requires that an applicant prepare a description of his or her qualifications, including scholarly accomplishments. This information is compiled on "Form a-1." Form a-1 and supplementary materials consisting of confidential letters of recommendation and other evaluation forms comprise the applicant's "Promotion Packet."

The Promotion Packet is first evaluated by tenured members of the candidate's department. The department produces an evaluation which reflects majority and minority views on the substance of the candidate's application. JA at 66. The Promotion Packet is also evaluated by the Appointments and Promotions Committee ("A & P Committee"), which is composed of faculty members of the candidate's institution. The department's and the A & P Committee's evaluations are then considered by the dean, who makes an independent recommendation. The next review is performed by the PRC. The PRC is charged with making promotion recommendations to the president of Rutgers. The PRC's purpose is to guard the integrity of the tenure review process by ensuring that evaluations of candidates have been made by leaders in their academic fields and that "appropriate evidence and analysis have been presented of accomplishment and impact on the field to support these judgments." JA at 67. After the PRC makes such an assessment, it then makes a recommendation to the president of the university. After review of all materials relating to the applicant, the university's president makes a recommendation to the Board of Governors, which makes the final decision to grant or deny tenure. Each candidate for tenure is reviewed independently by the PRC, without respect to the credentials of other candidates.

Stewart first applied for tenure during the 1992-1993 academic year and was unsuccessful. Stewart's Promotion Packet contained evaluations from nine referees, who were faculty members at other universities. The referees were asked to assess Stewart's scholarship, evaluating the "originality and quality of [her] achievements, their impact upon the field and the value of [her] contributions to the profession," and her accomplishments "relative to others in comparable positions in the discipline nationally and internationally." JA at 246. The referees' responses were varied.

The Department of Learning and Teaching recommended Stewart for promotion to Associate Professor with tenure by a vote of eleven to one. However, the department observed that Stewart had not fully demonstrated peer acceptance and recognition of her work because she had failed to publish in refereed journals. The department also noted that most of Stewart's ...


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