More than two years after the start of a discrimination lawsuit, Yale has filed an offer of proof which explains why former School of Management professor in practice Constance Bagley’s contract was not renewed.
The offer of proof, filed on Dec. 28, came in accordance with an order from Senior District Judge Charles Haight, who asked Yale to explain in “clear and specific languages” why Bagley’s reappointment was denied. In the order, Haight said the record at that time did not sufficiently reveal the reasons why Yale opted not to reappoint Bagley. Attempting to justify the University’s decision, the 12-page offer of proof cites both the Board of Permanent Officers’ vote against renewing Bagley’s contract and 50 negative student comments for her class “State and Society.” But in a statement to the News, Laura R. Studen — Bagley’s lead counsel from the firm Burns & Levinson — said student evaluations were not provided to the BPO and therefore could not have formed the basis for Yale’s decision not to reappoint Bagley.
While the University continues to maintain that the lawsuit is without merit, Bagley will be seeking a trial date this spring.
Bagley sued Yale in December 2013 alleging that she had not been reappointed in May 2012 because of her gender and age. Bagley also filed suit against SOM Dean Edward Snyder, SOM Deputy Dean Andrew Metrick and professor of management Douglas Rae, with whom she co-taught the course “State and Society.” Snyder and Metrick declined to comment on the case. Rae did not respond to request for comment.
University spokesman Tom Conroy said the court requested an offer of proof because it sought to clarify the University’s view of the reasons why Bagley’s reappointment was denied. But Studen said the court ordered Yale to provide an offer of proof because the justifications the University had previously presented contained “conflicting and contradictory post hoc reasons stated over time.”
“Yale admits that the initial review committee, as well as a subsequent newly appointed review committee, unanimously determined that professor Bagley met the standards of teaching, scholarship and service required for the renewal of her reappointment as a PiP,” Studen wrote in the statement.
Studen said the offer of proof intentionally cast Bagley in a negative light, excluding findings from a review committee appointed by then-Provost Peter Salovey that found that the SOM had violated its promise made in 2008 to base Bagley’s reappointment solely on her performance and indicated a “chilly climate” for women at the SOM. But, Conroy said Haight has a copy of the review committee report.
Studen added that while serving as provost, Salovey chose to “reject and ignore” recommendations from the review committee to reappoint Bagley. She alleged that Salovey formed another committee — composed of faculty that had voted against Bagley in the initial review — to construct standards for more general renewals at the SOM and then to apply those to Bagley retroactively.
In response, Salovey told the News that when serving as provost, he followed the processes outlined in the faculty handbook, describing accusations that he purposefully stacked committees against Bagley as “highly inaccurate.” He said he remains committed to following University processes “very carefully” and in ways that would be fair to all parties.
The offer of proof submitted by Yale states that the criteria to reappoint professors in practice are “scholarship, teaching, service to the University and need for the position.” Although a report produced by an SOM reappointment review committee in April 2012 recommended Bagley’s renewal on the basis of the first three criteria, it did not “address the issue of continued need” for Bagley on the faculty, as that category is left to the BPO to decide on a reappointment vote, according to the document.
The offer of proof stated that the BPO met and voted twice against reappointment. In the second meeting, 16 faculty members voted no and two voted yes for her reappointment. According to the offer of proof, all three female BPO members present voted against reappointment and just one BPO member voted in favor of reappointment at both meetings.
The document said all BPO members acknowledged Bagley’s service to the University but also noted that “each of the other three criteria were mentioned as reasons for the negative vote.”
“No one mentioned her gender,” the document states.
The offer of proof also lists specific reasons for the BPO members’ negative votes. These included the lack of University need for the position, Bagley’s waning dedication to her class, the lack of rigor and accuracy in her scholarship, a deteriorating relationship with Rae and dozens of negative course evaluations. Student comments also provided in the document noted her lack of familiarity with course material, frantic teaching style, disorganized lectures and excessive discussion about her own experiences at Harvard and Stanford.
But Studen’s statement to the News claimed many of the positive student comments about Bagley and criticism about Rae were omitted from the offer of proof. It added that Bagley received a rating of four out of five for the class from her spring 2012 students.
“The decision by the School of Management not to renew Professor Bagley’s appointment was made following comprehensive review. Professor Bagley’s age and gender were irrelevant to the decision,” Conroy said.
Bagley’s five-year term at the SOM ran from July 1, 2008 to June 30, 2013.
Correction, Wednesday, Jan. 20: A previous version of this article incorrectly attributed the statement from Burns & Levinson to Carla Reeves. In fact, lead counsel Laura R. Studen penned the statement.