Ollman v. Toll
United States District Court for the District of Maryland
518 F. Supp. 1196 (1981)
The University of Maryland was a public university located in College Park, Maryland. A search committee was appointed to nominate a new Chairman of the Department of Government and Politics. According to university procedures, the search committee was to provide a recommendation to the Provost, who in turn would provide a recommendation to the Chancellor for Academic Affairs, who would then provide a recommendation to the President of the university, who would make the final decision as to the appointment. It was routine practice, however, that the Vice President of Academic Affairs would review the Chancellor’s recommendation prior to it being submitted to the President. The search committee recommended two candidates, Ollman (plaintiff), an associate professor at New York University, and Holt, a professor at the University of Minnesota. The Provost, after a discussion with three members of the search committee, recommended Ollman. The Chancellor had ranked Holt higher than Ollman but was persuaded by the Provost to recommend Ollman. Prior to review by the Vice-President or President, the campus newspaper published an article regarding Ollman’s beliefs as a Marxist. During this time, the Vice-President learned of irregularities in the search process, and after discussions with faculty, recommended Ollman not be appointed. The university President, Dr. Toll (defendant), had just assumed his position as President. Toll reviewed Ollman’s file and ultimately rejected the recommendation to appoint Ollman. In doing so, Toll agreed that there were irregularities in the search process and questioned whether the search was thorough. Toll noted that Ollman, unlike the other leading candidates, was only an associate professor, not a full professor, and that he had no administrative experience necessary to be the chair of a large department. Ollman had no experience obtaining research grants, which was a specific requirement of the chairman. Furthermore, Ollman’s stated intent was to make the department the leader in the study of Marxism, which was a significant change in direction of the department, and faculty in the department was deeply divided over Ollman’s qualifications. Ollman filed a lawsuit against Toll and others, arguing he was rejected as chairman of the department due to his beliefs in Marxism in violation of the First Amendment.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Harvey, J.)
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