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Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Judge Dismisses Law Professor's Lawsuit Over Tenure Denial

BrownBlog of the Legal Times:  Judge Dismisses Law Professor's Lawsuit Over Tenure Denial:

A Washington federal judge dismissed a breach of contract and wrongful termination lawsuit yesterday filed by a former law professor at the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law who was denied tenure.

Stephanie Brown sued the university last May, accusing law school officials of violating the faculty handbook in how they handled her tenure evaluation and also of denying her tenure and firing her because of her race and gender. U.S. District Judge Richard Leon denied Brown's request for a preliminary injunction in August and yesterday granted the law school's motion to dismiss. ...

Brown had worked at UDC for 25 years, as an administrator and most recently as an associate law professor in the university's law school. In January 2009, she applied for tenure and promotion to a full professorship.

The law school's faculty evaluation and retention committee voted in favor of Brown's tenure application. Law school Dean Katherine Broderick also voted in favor, although, as Leon noted in yesterday's opinion, she expressed concerns about Brown's lack of scholarship. The application was referred to Graeme Baxter, at the time interim provost and vice president for academic affairs, for consideration in December 2009.

In June 2011, Baxter told Brown that her application was rejected and that the 2011-2012 academic year would be her last with the university. In October of that year, university President Allen Sessoms officially approved the denial of tenure. Brown received formal notice that she was being fired in May 2012, and she filed her lawsuit shortly after.

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