Otis B. Grant, Plaintiff-Appellant,
The Trustees of Indiana University, et al., Defendants-Appellees.
September 29, 2016
from the United States District Court for the Southern
District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division. No.
l:13-cv-00826-TWP-DML - Tanya Walton Pratt, Judge.
Wood, Chief Judge, and Ripple and Williams, Circuit Judges.
WILLIAMS, CIRCUIT JUDGE.
University of Indiana South Bend dismissed tenured Professor
Otis Grant in 2011 for "serious misconduct" based
on misrepresentations in his curriculum vitae. Grant sued the
University, Trustees, and several University employees,
filing twenty-six claims arising out of his termination. The
district court partially granted the defendants' motion
for judgment on the pleadings and later granted the
defendants' motion for summary judgment on the remaining
appeal, Grant contends that the district court
inappropriately granted summary judgment on five claims.
Grant, who is African American, maintains that the
University: (1) discriminated against him on the basis of
race; (2) retaliated against him for his complaints against
two University officials; (3) denied him due process of law;
(4) defamed him in the South Bend Tribune; and (5)
breached a contract created by the University's handbook.
In viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to Grant,
we find that Grant has failed to produce admissible evidence
demonstrating there exists any disputed issue of fact as to
these five claims. So we affirm the district court's
judgment in the defendants' favor.
Grant was a professor at the University of Indiana South Bend
("IUSB") from 1999 until his dismissal in 2011.
During that time, he was granted tenure in the College of
Arts and Sciences and won several awards. But in 2008,
several students complained to University administration that
Grant inappropriately cancelled classes, used obscene
language in class, dismissed two students from his course
without following proper procedure, and had permitted a
non-employee to grade student work and access academic
Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs, Alfred J. Guillaume,
Jr., assigned Dean Lynn R. Williams to investigate the
complaints. As a result of his investigation, Williams
recommended that Grant be denied access to the College of
Arts and Sciences travel funds for the fiscal year and a
salary increase for 2009-10. Williams also accused Grant of
being evasive and refusing to provide information or
providing false information during the investigation.
Guillaume accepted and implemented the recommended sanctions.
Grant then filed an affirmative action complaint with the
University's Director of Affirmative Action, alleging
Williams took an adverse employment action against Grant
because of his race.
the students had also reported their concerns to the local
newspaper, the South Bend Tribune. The newspaper
submitted several open records requests to the University,
including two relating to Grant's education and training.
Guillaume began collecting records for a response, as the
University is subject to Indiana's Access to Public
Records Act. In doing so, Guillaume noticed discrepancies in
Grant's employment records and attempted to obtain
clarification. But Guil-laume's exchange with both Grant
and the institutions listed on Grant's application
materials only raised more concerns. For example, over the
course of his employment at IUSB, Grant had changed the name
of the judge for whom he clerked from "Richard M.
Wright" to "Richard M. Ritten-band" and
changed the name of the institution from which he received a
master's degree from the "Gestalt Institute of
Psychology" to the "Gestalt Institute in
Faculty Misconduct Review Committee
determined that Grant "misled the university when he
applied for a faculty position by falsifying his academic
credentials in numerous and significant ways" and
repeated such misrepresentations throughout his employment.
Guillaume presented his findings to the Faculty Misconduct
Review Committee ("FMRC") on September 8, 2009, and
recommended that Grant be dismissed for serious personal
misconduct. Grant was notified and he responded on October 6,
November 4, 2009, the FMRC issued a written recommendation in
which it declined to proceed with a formal hearing, though it
noted that the issues were "troubling." The FMRC
reasoned that verification of Grant's credentials had
been the responsibility of the Search and Screen Committee at
the time Grant was hired, and it thought that a hearing was
not likely to establish "chronic or substantial
incompetence or misconduct" as the charges did not
relate to Grant's scholarship or teaching. The FMRC also
concluded that, even if the allegations against Grant were
true, they could not be the basis for dismissal and removal
of Grant's tenure. Six months later, on May 10, 2010,
Guillaume submitted a recommendation for Grant's
dismissal to IUSB Chancellor Uma Mae Reck based on his strong
belief that the FMRC had reached the wrong decision. After
that, Guillaume had no further involvement in any employment
decisions concerning Grant.
Investigation and Termination
met with Grant to discuss Guillaume's recommendation for
dismissal on September 1, 2010. Grant denied all charges and
alleged Guillaume was retaliating against him for filing the
affirmative action complaint against Williams. Because of
Grant's allegations of discrimination and the
contradictory assertions by Guillaume and Grant regarding
Grant's credentials, the University, through its counsel,
hired an independent investigation firm, Klink & Company
("Klink"). Reck informed Grant in writing that
Klink had been retained to conduct its own review of
Grant's curriculum vitae ("CV") and application
materials. Meanwhile, Grant provided a 42-page response to
Reck regarding Guillaume's recommendation for dismissal.
However, he did not include any new documentation to
substantiate his credentials.
received Klink's final report on February 22, 2011. Klink
noted that Grant had impeded its investigation by failing to
provide consent to verify his employment and educational
credentials. Klink concluded that many of Grant's
credentials were "vague, " "misleading, "
or "otherwise incorrect." For example, in his 1998
CV, Grant represented that he was a lecturer or instructor at
California State College, Howard University, the Armed Forces
Institute, and Boston State College. Grant eventually
admitted he did not actually work for these institutions, but
rather taught workshops lasting only two or three days on
their campuses. But Klink was unable to find any evidence to
substantiate Grant's claims that he was a lecturer,
instructor, or workshop leader at any of these institutions.
Klink detailed several other discrepancies, including
Grant's representation at the time of his application
that he was ...