Update: See the comments for this correction, from Ms Emeldi’s lawyer, David Force, making clear that the Emeldi case is against UO, not against Prof Horner:
There is not now and never has been a lawsuit by her against Dr. Horner. The sole defendant in the case is the University itself. Title IX of the Education Act is directed to institutions, not individuals, who receive Federal funding support. Monica’s lawsuit seeks damages and equitable remedies (an injunction) against the University for retaliating against her for criticizing Dr. Horner.
10/30/2012. UO has spent something north of $150,000 on lawyers to defend Coach Chip Kelly in the Willie Lyles NCAA investigation. Add in the hours for Jim O’Fallon, Rob Mullens, and the general counsel’s office, not to mention three UO president’s so far, and the cost has to be well over $500,000. There’s no sign that UO is going to ask Kelly to help pay for any of it.
But suppose a case involving a UO professor and substantive questions of academic freedom comes up. Well, one such 2005 case involved law school professor Merle Weiner, sued for defamation by someone who didn’t like the description of his court case that she published in a law journal. President Frohnmayer and his general counsel Melinda Grier decided not to defend her. UO argued – I’m not making this up – that publishing was not part of a professor’s job responsibilities. Weiner had to pay for her own defense, and she settled out of court.
Now there’s another important UO case, involving a conflict between Ed School professor Rob Horner and former PhD student Monica Emeldi. The appeals court ruling against Horner has attracted national attention because it allows grad students to use Title IX anti-discrimination law to file suits against the professors who advise their research – apparently a first.
It’s a controversial decision, Diane Dietz had an excellent write up in the RG Sunday. So is UO going to defend its faculty this time? Randy Geller gives a resounding maybe:
“We have reason to believe that this would be a good candidate for review because it has academic freedom and Constitutional implications,” Geller said. “The question we have to ask ourselves, first of all, is it worth seeking review? If review were to be granted, then are we prepared for the cost of (review)?”
I’m all for applying cost/benefit analysis. I just don’t trust Randy Geller to do anything better than a hack job at it. The UO Senate should make this call – unless Johnson Hall is now going to start arguing that advising PhD students is not part of a professor’s job responsibilities either.
It’s worth noting that there is a policy on legal services in the works – but it’s been stalled for almost a year. Geller’s original version created a firestorm in the Senate Executive Committee, and he refused to show up and defend it.