United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois, E.D
March 19, 1969
CARY B. LEWIS, PLAINTIFF,
CHICAGO STATE COLLEGE ET AL., DEFENDANTS.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Decker, District Judge.
The plaintiff Lewis is a Negro associate professor at Chicago
State College, an Illinois college supported by public funds. In
1967 and 1968, the Department of Business Education recommended
that he be promoted to full professor, but the appropriate
faculty committee and the school's administration declined to do
Lewis has now instituted this civil rights action, claiming
that the college and its governing officers discriminate against
Negro faculty members in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and
1985(3). Plaintiff asks this court to promote him to a full
professorship and to require the school to allow him to
participate in the administration and various faculty committees.
In response, the defendants have moved for summary judgment,
alleging that the failure to promote Lewis resulted solely from
an evaluation of his ability. Since the record contains no
evidence of racial discrimination, defendants are entitled to
judgment as a matter of law.
Promotions and salary increases at Chicago State College
originate with the instructional departments, which submit
proposals to the APTS faculty committee. After reviewing the
departmental recommendations, the committee forwards its
suggestions to the President. Similarly, the President screens
the proposals and then presents his recommendations to the Board
of Governors which makes the final decision.
In May 1967 the APTS committee suggested that the plaintiff and
four white associate professors be promoted to full professor.
The President returned all five recommendations, urging the
committee "to examine criteria for such promotions * * * and also
to study the issues relating to appropriate number and percentage
of full professors." Shortly thereafter, the committee
resubmitted two of the original recommendations, but Lewis was
not one of the two.
The next year, in the spring of 1968, the APTS committee's
recommendations did not include Lewis, although they successfully
recommended that another Negro associate professor be promoted to
II. Racial Discrimination
The college's President and all five members of the 1967 and
1968 APTS committee declare that their actions concerning
Lewis were unrelated to his race. According to the affidavits,
plaintiff's race was never mentioned. Rather, "while Professor
Lewis was a valuable member of the faculty he did not meet the
criteria established by the APTS Committee and the President of
the College for elevation to full professor."
Accepting the truth of plaintiff's three opposing affidavits
establishes only that: (1) 1967 was the first time a Negro had
been recommended for promotion to full professor, (2) the
President's referral back to the APTS committee in 1967 was
novel, and (3) the APTS committee's refusal to adopt the
Department of Business Education's promotion recommendations in
1967 and 1968 was also unprecedented.
Although the complaint implies that all faculty members must be
treated equally, universities justifiably distinguish among
teachers who hold different academic ranks. Lewis has been an
associate professor for six years and has been at the college for
eleven years. Of the other forty-one associate professors, seven
have been associate professors for as long or longer than the
plaintiff, and five have been employed by the school for more
than eleven years. In fact, one associate professor has been with
Chicago State College for fifteen years and has been in his
present rank for nine years. All of these faculty members are
With respect to salary, Lewis objects because his 1967 and 1968
raises were less than those recommended by his department. Of the
associate professors now at the college, however, only three
receive a larger salary than plaintiff and twenty-seven receive
less. Furthermore, of those who have smaller salaries, four have
served longer as associate professors and two have been employed
longer by the college. Each of these teachers is white.*fn2
As for faculty and administrative committees, Lewis served as
Budget Coordinator for the college in 1966 and had the
responsibility for integrating the college's entire budget. He
voluntarily resigned this position in 1967. Plaintiff has also
served on five other committees: the graduation, student activity
fees, faculty welfare, athletic, and McKelvey Report
committees.*fn3 The latter issued a comprehensive analysis of
the school's future development.
The judiciary is not the appropriate forum for decisions
involving academic rank. A professor's value depends upon his
creativity, his rapport with students and colleagues, his
teaching ability, and numerous other intangible qualities which
cannot be measured by objective standards. As stated in
Application of Lombardi, 18 A.D.2d 444, 240 N.Y.S.2d 119, 120-121
(App. Div. 1963):*fn4
"[P]romotions in the advanced academic ranks are not
determined solely by lapse of time and record
qualifications consisting of advanced degrees
and written works. They [plaintiff] admit that the
more elusive qualifications of teaching ability,
administrative capacity and creative inspiration are
"It should be readily evident that such
qualifications are not mechanically measurable nor
susceptible to visual comparison with conclusive
Compare Daly v. Pedersen, 278 F. Supp. 88, 90 (D.Minn. 1967).
Since the courts are not qualified to make such evaluations,*fn5
judicial review is only proper if the plaintiff can clearly
demonstrate illegal discrimination.
The record lacks any evidence of racial prejudice against the
plaintiff. Promotion decisions appear to have been made on
ability, not race. Of two other Negroes who have been promoted to
full professor, one attained this distinction at the same time
the APTS committee declined to recommend Lewis. Plaintiff's
recent salary increases were among the highest at the college,
and he now enjoys salary at the high end of the scale. He has
served both as a member of the administration and on responsible
Moreover, promotion decisions made by a college's faculty,
administration and governing board are not normally justiciable.
These determinations depend upon evaluations of intangibles such
as scholarship, teaching ability, service to the profession, and
potential contribution to the institution. A full professorship
may not be obtained solely by long tenure, good behavior, or the
accumulation of academic degrees. Instead, it is the highest
honor a university can confer upon a colleague.
Accordingly, I have today entered an order granting summary
judgment for the defendants.