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ROBERTS v. BROSKI

October 3, 1997

JAMES P. ROBERTS, Plaintiff,
v.
DAVID BROSKI, individually and in his official capacity as interim Chancellor of the University of Illinois, a body politic and an Illinois corporation, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: ALESIA

 This matter is before the Court on Defendant David Broski's motion for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56.

 Motion granted.

 I. BACKGROUND1

 The University of Illinois at Chicago ("UIC") has an Urban Health Program ("UHP"). The purpose of the UHP is to expand the enrollment, retention, and graduation of minority students. Each of the health profession colleges -- which includes the College of Dentistry -- within the UIC has personnel employed to maintain the objectives of the UHP. The UIC also created a Community Advisory Council ("CAC") to assist the UHP efforts.

 Plaintiff James Roberts began his employment with the UIC in 1983 as an Assistant Dean for Administration in the College of Dentistry. Roberts also has significant responsibilities pertaining to the UHP -- his position has been referred to as the Director of the UHP and as the UHP Coordinator in the College of Dentistry. His duties included the recruitment, retention, and graduation of minority students. Roberts was assisted in his UHP responsibilities by Oscar Martinez.

 The size of the entering class of the College of Dentistry has generally been declining over the years. From its inception, the UHP set a goal of 15% minority representation in the College of Dentistry. The College of Dentistry reached the 15% goal once -- in 1990. From 1991 to 1995 the minority representation of the entering classes was low and declining steadily. In fact, from 1981 through 1994, with the exception of 1990 through 1993, the College of Dentistry had the lowest percentage of minority representation of the six health profession colleges. The College of Dentistry also had the lowest percentage of total graduates of the six health profession colleges from June 1982 through June 1994.

 Dr. Allen Anderson has been the dean of the College of Dentistry since 1988. As dean, he is the chief executive officer and administrator of the College of Dentistry. In 1992, 1993, and 1994, Dean Anderson advised Roberts that he would be receiving below average salary increases due to the low UHP student enrollment.

 Beginning with the 1993-94 academic year, Dean Anderson prepared written evaluations of Roberts' performance. Simply stated, the 1993-94 and 1994-95 evaluations did not speak highly of Roberts' performance.

 In September of 1994, Dean Anderson and Roberts met to discuss his evaluation regarding his performance for the 1993-94 academic year. Dean Anderson was very upset due to the low UHP enrollment numbers in the College of Dentistry. Roberts claimed that the low enrollment was the result of an insufficient budget regarding recruitment efforts.

 Dean Anderson requested a report from Roberts (and his assistant Martinez) in March of 1995 detailing their UHP plans and goals for the upcoming year. The report was submitted, but Dean Anderson criticized it.

 The CAC held a meeting on January 25, 1995. Defendant David Broski -- at the time the Interim Chancellor at UIC; currently the Chancellor at UIC -- was present. Concern was expressed regarding the fact that no African-American students were part of the 1994 entering class. Roberts responded to the concern by noting that scholarship money disappeared and there was a national crisis -- thirty of the fifty six dental schools in the country lacked African-American students for the 1994 entering class.

 At the meeting, the UHP budget information was discussed. Roberts questioned the accuracy of some of the figures, suggesting -- at least implicitly -- that the numbers, for whatever reason, had been fabricated. Roberts also complained of insufficient funds for recruitment activities.

 The January 1995 meeting was not the first time Roberts questioned the accuracy of the figures comprising the budget. In May of 1990, Roberts complained at a CAC meeting that a report of UHP expenditures was inaccurate.

 In early June of 1995, another CAC meeting was held. Broski was present. The UHP budget was discussed. Roberts once again questioned the numbers, noting that the numbers were "bitching," "did not make sense," and "did not add up." Broski was admittedly disturbed by Roberts' comments; he found the "serious charges" that the budgeting committee "created out of whole cloth some fictitious numbers" offensive.

 Accordingly, to dispel questions regarding the accuracy of the budget, the CAC recommended a review of the budget allocations. A minority owned outside accounting firm was utilized. The court was not informed of the conclusions reached by the accounting firm.

 That was the third consecutive year that Dean Anderson recommended to Broski that Roberts be issued a terminal contract. In the prior two years, Broski rejected Dean Anderson's recommendation. This was the third strike, however; Broski now agreed with Dean Anderson's decision. On August 17, 1995, a terminal contract dated August 15, 1995, was issued to Roberts for the 1995-96 academic year with notice that the contract would not be renewed at the end of its term. The College of Dentistry Executive Committee unanimously concurred with the decision to issue Roberts a terminal contract.

 Roberts responded by filing a formal grievance against Broski and Dean Anderson -- and also Donald Rice, the Associate Dean for Student Affairs in the College of Dentistry. The Court was not informed of the result of the grievance hearing; though, it appears things did not go as Roberts had hoped. Indeed, in November of 1995, Roberts filed an action in the Circuit Court of Cook County against Broski, Dr. Manning -- the grievance officer -- and Mary Beastall -- the grievance hearing officer. Roberts claimed that the handling of the grievance "violated his rights."

 In March of 1996, Roberts filed the instant action in federal court claiming that his termination was in retaliation for his comments regarding the UHP budget allocations and the accuracy of the UHP ...


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