STEADMAN, Associate Judge.
The George Washington University (appellee) decided not to promote Carole Brown (appellant) or to renew her initial three-year employment contract as an assistant professor. It later removed her from her role as principal investigator in a grant project for the six months remaining in her existing employment term. Appellant filed suit claiming breach of contract for appellee's alleged failure to honor her Faculty Code ("Code") grievance rights during her unsuccessful intrauniversity challenge to these decisions. The trial court granted appellee's motion for summary judgment. We affirm.
On December 7, 1992, the faculty of the Department of Teacher Preparation and Secondary Education ("Department") voted not to renew appellant's contract and not to promote her. Pursuant to the Code, appellant submitted a grievance to the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate, alleging several deficiencies in the process that led to the termination vote. The Executive Committee appointed a Hearing Committee ("Committee") to investigate her complaint. The Committee held a three-day hearing in which appellant and eleven other witnesses testified and over 50 exhibits were entered into evidence. After this extensive evidentiary hearing, the Committee issued on March 1, 1995 a six-page single-spaced decision in which it determined that appellant had not demonstrated by clear and convincing evidence that the Department's decision had violated her rights under the Code or that the Department's action was arbitrary and capricious.
Subsequent to appellant's filing of the grievance with the Executive Committee, Peter Smith, Dean of the School of Education and Human Development, on December 20, 1993, removed appellant from the position of principal investigator on the project "Spanning Boundaries: Doctoral Leadership in Early Education." After being removed, appellant added this additional ground to her grievance complaint. The Committee deferred investigation into this new grievance until after it had denied appellant's grievance related to her non-promotion and non-renewal. Then, after choosing not to hold an evidentiary hearing on the principal investigator issue, the Committee on June 23, 1995 denied this grievance as well.
On March 1, 1998, appellant filed a two-count suit alleging breach of contract. The trial court dismissed as time-barred the first count, which challenged appellee's decisions not to promote appellant, not to renew her contract, and to remove her as principal investigator.
Summary judgment is appropriate when "there is no genuine issue as to any material
In the context here, we proceed with particular caution, recognizing that "courts should not invade, and only rarely assume academic oversight, except with the greatest caution and restraint, in such sensitive areas as faculty appointment, promotion, and tenure, especially in institutions of higher learning. Where a university has adopted rules or guidelines in such areas, the courts will only intervene where there has not been substantial compliance with those procedures." Loebl v. New York Univ., 255 A.D.2d 257, 680 N.Y.S.2d 495, 496-97 (1998) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted); see also Kakaes v. George Washington Univ., 683 A.2d 128, 135 (D.C.1996). Further-more, we keep in mind the essential consideration that we are not here reviewing directly whether the Department violated any employment rights of the appellant. That attack is precluded by the dismissal of her first count. Rather, what is before us is the issue whether, in the grievance process to which appellant consented,
We first deal with the Committee's review of the Department's decision neither to promote appellant nor renew her employment contract. Pursuant to appellant's argument, we focus here upon the provision of the Code
Specifically, appellant argues that she demonstrated to the Committee by clear and convincing evidence
First, appellant alleged that the Department failed to provide her with adequate notice of any deficiencies in her performance prior to its decision.
Second, appellant asserted that her exclusion from the December 7, 1992 meeting violated a Department guideline
Finally, we reach the heart of the matter, the Committee's affirmance of the Department's decision not to promote or rehire. After hearing from seven of the eight faculty members who voted against appellant, the Committee found that the Department faculty had applied the relevant criteria in deciding appellant's case.
For each issue under review, the Committee weighed the evidence before it, considered each party's arguments and then rendered a decision. Such deliberate decision making was the opposite of "[a]rbitrary action [which], if it means anything, means action not based on facts or reason." Washington Gas Light Co. v. Pub. Serv. Comm'n, 452 A.2d 375, 379 (D.C. 1982) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted), cert. denied, 462 U.S. 1107, 103 S.Ct. 2454, 77 L.Ed.2d 1334 (1983). We agree with the trial court that appellee was entitled to judgment as a matter of law on appellant's challenge to the Committee's review of her grievance relating to the Department's decision not to promote or rehire.
We also agree with the trial court's resolution of appellant's claim that the Committee violated her rights under the Code when it declined to conduct an evidentiary hearing into her removal from the grant project. It is true that the Code contemplates that a hearing will ordinarily be held to determine the merit of a grievance. However, it is worth noting that, as already described, an extensive hearing had been held on appellant's other grievances.
These memoranda from counsel had been prepared in response to the Committee's request that each party submit a document discussing "(1) what standards govern the review of the decision to remove [appellant] as principal investigator; (2) a short summary of the facts each party could present to show that the decision was either right or wrong; (3) what injury [appellant] suffered, given that she is no longer employed by the University; (4) what relief the . . . Committee could grant now given that it has decided that the faculty decisions denying [appellant's] requests for contract renewal and promotion should not be reversed; (5) whether this matter can be disposed of without another evidentiary hearing."
As the Committee noted, unlike her other grievances, no specific criteria or rules existed as to removal of a principal investigator on a grant. Hence, the only basis for Committee review was whether the decision was arbitrary or capricious. Focusing on the immediate circumstances surrounding Dean Smith's decision to terminate, the Committee concluded that "[a]gainst this background, his decision can hardly be characterized as arbitrary or capricious." Most saliently, the Committee expressly noted that even if appellant was able to prove all the facts recited in her counsel's memorandum, the Committee's decision would not change. On this record, we do not think that it could be reasonably concluded that appellant suffered any substantial injury by the Committee's determination that a formal hearing was unnecessary in the circumstances.
The judgment of the trial court is therefore