funds to eliminate one position and use the additional funds for recruitment efforts to attract the most qualified interested minorities? That's good business; and, where better to raise such issues than at a budget meeting. Furthermore, after Broski's remark, he indicated that he was just considering his options and that he would discuss it with the Budget Advisory Committee. Accordingly, the court expresses grave doubts that Roberts' interpretation of Broski's remark is accurate.
Thus, the court must conclude that Roberts failed to link his speech with the termination decision. In summary, the fact that his speech preceded the termination decision is of nominal value; the statement by Dr. Wallace is nonexistent in this record; and because of the highly speculative -- and unreasonable in this court's opinion -- interpretation advanced by Roberts regarding the final piece of evidence, the court finds that he has not come forward with enough evidence to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that his speech was the motivating factor pertaining to his termination. Simply stated, it's not enough to satisfy his burden.
2. Job performance
Even if Roberts could establish that his speech was the motivating factor for the issuance of the terminal contract, Broski could still escape liability by showing that the terminal contract would have been issued absent the protected speech. See Umbehr, 116 S. Ct. at 2347. Broski claims that Roberts was terminated because of poor performance; namely, Broski and others were not satisfied with Roberts' effort in attracting minorities to UIC's College of Dentistry. The court finds that the evidence supports Broski's argument.
It's clear that Roberts' superiors were not pleased with his performance regarding the recruitment of minorities to the College of Dentistry well before his speech at the January and June 1995 CAC meetings. In 1992, 1993, and 1994, Dean Anderson informed Roberts that he would be receiving below average salary increases due to low minority enrollment. Furthermore, Dean Anderson's evaluations of Roberts were not promising. The final straw came when Dean Anderson learned that for the second year in a row no African-Americans were admitted to the first year dental class. Moreover, 1995 was the third consecutive year that Dean Anderson recommended to Broski that Roberts be issued a terminal contract.
Roberts attempts to rebut allegations that he performed ineffectively regarding minority recruitment by noting that the low minority enrollment was the result of factors beyond his control. Factors which included primarily a national crisis of little interest, especially among minorities, for a career in dentistry and insufficient funds for recruitment activities. That may all be true. Nevertheless, Dean Anderson and Broski thought that Roberts should have performed better. This court is not in a position to question Dean Anderson and Broski's opinion regarding Roberts' recruitment efforts.
Next, Roberts claims that minority applicants for the 1993, 1994, and 1995 academic years actually increased; but, the vast majority of the applicants were rejected by the Admissions Committee. And, because he did not sit on the Admissions Committee, Roberts asserts that he lacked the power to admit the students. The court does not find Roberts argument persuasive as to whether he was performing his UHP responsibilities effectively. Perhaps the majority of the applicants were rejected because they were not the caliber of students the UIC was seeking to attract.
Finally, to rebut Broski's claim that Roberts was terminated for poor performance, Roberts argues that the UHP activities only accounted for 25% to 55% of his responsibilities, but he was never evaluated on his non-UHP responsibilities. Once again, the court finds the argument unpersuasive as to whether Roberts was performing effectively. Broski and Dean Anderson believed that Roberts main responsibility was to recruit minority students to the College of Dentistry. In their opinion, he did not perform effectively regarding his most important responsibility.
In summary, the court does not believe Roberts has come forward with enough evidence to cast doubt on the reason asserted for Roberts' termination -- poor job performance. Accordingly, Roberts' case would fall here, also.
The defendant's motion for summary judgment is GRANTED. Judgment is entered on behalf of the defendant, David Broski and against the plaintiff, James P. Roberts.
Date: OCT 03 1997
James H. Alesia
United States District Judge