Justice Barbara Jaffe


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Petitioners challenged respondents’ decision denying renewal of employment contracts with the university. They were offered, and accepted, three-year, tenure-track positions as assistant professors. Petitioners applied for, but the provost denied renewals of petitioners’ contracts due to “financial considerations.” They appealed to the faculty review committee which ruled President Joel should reappoint petitioners to their positions. Joel stated the review was conducted pursuant to the handbook and no remedial action was necessary. Petitioners claimed respondents violated the guidelines, and breached their contracts. The court agreed finding Joel was not authorized to determine no remedial action was needed, and his doing so constituted a violation of the handbook. Also, his decision constituted a violation of the guidelines as financial considerations were not among the criteria for third-year reappointment of tenure-track faculty. Further, as the handbook did not expressly limit third-year review of tenure-track faculty to specific criteria, deviation did not constitute a breach. Petitioners showed the challenged determination was reached in violation of respondents’ policies and procedures. Annulment of Joel’s challenged determination was granted, and remanded for a de novo review.