Denial of Harvard’s Motion to Dismiss — and moving forward

In May 2023, Harvard filed a Motion to Dismiss my lawsuit.  Harvard argued that universities have wide discretion to make tenure decisions, and claimed that I was incorrect in my allegations of violations of the governing policy.  Meanwhile Harvard did not concede that its P&P policy is a contract that it must follow.

This week the Massachusetts Superior Court denied all of Harvard’s arguments.  And the Court correctly treated the P&P policy as the contract that it plainly is.  My case will proceed.

The next step is discovery.  I’m particularly looking forward to discovery because Harvard has withheld so much information from me.  For example, the governing policy required Harvard to provide me (as well as readers of the report about me) “the evidence gathered” by the investigating committee.   But Harvard did nothing of the kind, instead resorting to anonymous quotes entirely without context.  Now that I am entitled to discovery, I will demand the entire corpus from which these quotes were taken.  That will certainly include all the notes prepared by the investigating committee.  It should also include full interview recordings.  With this information, I will no longer have to speculate about what these speakers might have been talking about.  At long last, I will be able to say for sure – putting me on track to defend myself in substance and without resorting to hypotheticals.

I will also seek the written tally sheets on which members of the HBS Appointments Committee (all senior faculty and fully-engaged emeritus faculty) evaluated my case.  These tally sheets give each person’s contemporaneous statement of the basis for their vote.  The tally sheets will therefore reveal what the Appointments Committee learned (or thought they learned) from the FRB report about me, versus what they found from other independent sources not the subject of my lawsuit.  No doubt Harvard would prefer to keep faculty notes confidential.  But see Theidon v. Harvard Order on Defendant’s Motion for Protective Order and Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel, requiring Harvard to produce letters from outside letter-writers evaluating a candidate’s research.  That Court remarked “there is no privilege against the disclosure of tenure peer review materials” and further pointed out that the litigant needs these documents to prove her case.  So too for me.

I’m not perfect.  But I don’t have the flaws alleged in the 2017 FRB report about me.  The Appointments Committee faculty who judged my case based on that flawed report were provided incorrect facts about me, and their misinformed votes were pivotal to the failure of my promotion to tenure.  With the benefit of discovery, I will prove every link of the logic: I will establish not just that the report didn’t follow the promised procedure but that it was actually incorrect, and I will show how the faulty report influenced Appointments Committee members.