APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. SAMUEL
B. EPSTEIN, Judge, presiding.
MR. JUSTICE SCHAEFER DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
The plaintiffs in this action are Student House, Inc., an Illinois corporation, and Lary G. Stone, Henry S. Frank and O. Hosmer Morse, who are partners doing business as Stone, Frank, Morse & Associates. Student House, Inc. operates a 300-bed private student housing facility at Northern Illinois University and the partners own the stock of Student House, Inc. The defendants are The Board of Regents of Regency Universities, named individuals who are or have been members of the former governing bodies of Northern Illinois University, and its present and former presidents. From a summary judgment in favor of the defendants the plaintiffs appealed to the Appellate Court, First District. Because of the importance of a prompt final disposition, it was ordered that the appeal be taken directly to this court under Supreme Court Rule 302(d). Ill. Rev. Stat. 1967, ch. 110(a), par. 302.
The complaint alleged that in 1963 and 1964 Northern Illinois University faced a serious student housing shortage, and that in order to induce private investors to provide housing facilities to meet the needs of the University certain officials of the University made the following "representations and commitments":
"(a) That they needed the help and support of private investors in resolving the critical student housing shortage at the University;
"(b) That only large private housing facilities could satisfy the present and future student housing needs of the University;
"(c) That the defendants were not interested in being in the `housing business', that the `housing business' was a big headache to the University;
"(d) That if private capital would meet the University student housing needs, defendants would not build any additional student dormitories at the University;
"(e) That the defendants would not in the future expand the University student housing facilities to the detriment of the private investors;
"(f) That defendants would take into consideration the private investors and their private student facilities in the formation and implementation of all future University plans, programs, rules and regulations."
The complaint also alleged that in reliance on these representations and commitments the plaintiffs invested substantial sums of money to build and operate a private housing facility, known as "Student House", near the campus of the University; that the governing board of the University disregarded the representations and commitments, proceeded with plans for the expansion of the University-owned student housing facilities, and in each of the years 1965, 1966 and 1967 increased its student housing capacity by 1000 beds; that an additional 1000-bed facility was proposed in 1968; and that at the time this suit was instituted the University was negotiating for the purchase of an existing 1000-bed private dormitory. It was further alleged that the University enforces rules which require that all University-owned dormitories must be completely filled before students are permitted to rent rooms in private facilities. The plaintiffs alleged that as a result of the conduct of the defendants, they have consistently lost money in the operation of Student House since it was opened for occupancy in 1966, and now find themselves in precarious financial condition.
The complaint prayed for the entry of a decree enjoining the defendants from:
"(1) Constructing, purchasing, leasing or otherwise acquiring any additional student housing facilities, and from engaging in any actions, preliminary or otherwise, in preparation for or contemplation of constructing, purchasing, leasing or otherwise acquiring any additional student housing facilities;
"(2) Promulgating and enforcing any rule, regulation or standard for the administration or operation of large private student housing facilities which substantially differs from or is at variance with any rule, regulation or standard governing the administration or operation of UNIVERSITY student housing facilities;
"(3) Promulgating and pursuing any plans, programs, rules and regulations which breach and violate the ...