Denny Carley v. Arizona Board of Regents

737 P.2d 1099 (1987)

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Denny Carley v. Arizona Board of Regents

Arizona Court of Appeals
737 P.2d 1099 (1987)

Facts

Denny Carley (plaintiff) was an assistant professor of art at Northern Arizona University (NAU). After Carley’s fifth year of teaching, NAU was considering whether Carley should be retained as an art professor. The Art Department Committee reviewed materials supplied by Carley and student reviews and, by a vote of two to three, recommended that Carley not be retained. The chairman of the Art Department and the dean of the College of Creative Arts disagreed on whether Carley should be retained. Ultimately, NAU President Charles Hughes informed Carley that his contract for the 1984-85 school year would be his last. The NAU Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure reviewed the decision and found that Carley’s right to academic freedom had been violated and, by a vote of six to three, recommended that Carley be retained. Hughes, however, stuck with his decision not to retain Carley after the 1984-85 school year. Carley filed suit in superior court under the Administrative Review Act, arguing that Hughes acted arbitrarily and capriciously in deciding not to retain him. The superior court upheld the administrative decision. Carley appealed, arguing that his right to academic freedom had been violated. Carley’s claim was premised on the argument that he had engaged in constitutionally protected activity and that this was a substantial factor in the decision not to retain him. Carley attested that he was unconventional and would often leave his students unattended in order to teach them the self-sufficiency and independence needed in the real world. Several student evaluations were critical of this method. Carley argued that because the student evaluations were critical of protected activity, they were not permitted to be a substantial factor in NAU’s decision not to retain him.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Eubank, J.)

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