UConn Cleared in Dean’s Demotion

September 21, 2010 (PLANSPONSOR.com) – The University of Connecticut had the right to demote its former School of Engineering dean who repeatedly complained about school policies because the university was justified in expecting its executives to support the school they helped lead.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals threw out a lower-court ruling refusing to dismiss plaintiff Amir Faghri’s suit against the school and sent the matter back with instructions to find for the university.

According to the opinion, Faghri claimed the demotion was in retaliation for exercising his First Amendment right to free speech. Faghri had spoken out about the school’s policies in a wide variety of areas.

Circuit Judge Pierre N. Leval, writing for the appellate court, said the case turned on the fact that Faghri’s position as dean represented a management post.

“Because the deanship of the School of Engineering is an executive policymaking position, the management of the university was entitled to have such a position occupied by one who voiced support for, or at least did not voice opposition to, the university’s policies,” Leval wrote. “Such an institution is entitled, for the sake of effective implementation of its policies, to have in management positions, especially high-ranking executive positions, persons who will support its policies, rather than persons who will undermine its goals by voicing public opposition to them.”

The 2nd Circuit ruling is here