Brand NU World

Bleak Scott Hall

August 10, 2017, With Periodic Updates of All Litigation

Then What Happened?

Colleagues and students have been asking for an update on Brand NU's ongoing retaliation for my commitment to academic integrity in the university and my department.  This post notes the absence of any disciplinary charges and links to court documents.

A number of folks in the Faculty Senate had been told that Brand NU planned on a mediation this summer.  Settlement discussions are confidential, but Brand NU noted in a public court filing of July 31, 2017 requesting a delay that the parties had been in "discussions about scheduling" a mediation. None occurred or were even scheduled.  And exactly a week before, on July 24, 2017 "someone in the Provost's office" informed the Buffett staff to stop their planned move of the Deportation Research Clinic office from 1800 Sherman into the Scott Hall basement.  The Clinic is now in boxes.  We learned two days ago that the move supposedly will go ahead at some unnamed date before classes start.  I'll believe it when I see it.  Once again my work is entirely disrupted.*   

Who is responsible for this?  I don't know. "Someone-in-the-Provost's-Office" told my colleague at Buffet not to reveal to me either the reason for the delay or the name of the person ordering this.  Secret orders from "the Provost's Office" that again interfere with my work do not inspire confidence that Brand NU's administration really wants a settlement.  (The "Clinic in the News" link highlights some of our work this summer, including the first systematic review of immigration court cases adjourned based on claims of U.S. citizenship, with a dataset from January 1, 2011 through June 9, 2017.)  

As for the rest of the year?  The quick version is that a few weeks after lifting the ban, Dean Adrian Randolph sent me a letter threatening to pursue disciplinary charges against me if I did not agree to behavioral coaching and moving out of the Political Science Department.  I received the letter the evening of Friday, October 7, 2016 and was given until noon three days later to reply.  The carrot was $7,500/year in research funds.

I knew I had violated no policies and refused to banish myself from my department..

Monday at noon came and went.  Then the next Monday.  And the Monday after that.  And then weeks and months of Mondays.    

Despite Al Tillery's and Sara Monoson's inflammatory claims that I was uncivil and a threat to campus safety, no one provided a single, specific event to back up the ban or the  forced office move over the winter break.  And, not a single disciplinary charge was ever filed. 

This is further evidence last year's ban was only because of my reports of unprofessional conduct by colleagues and effectively challenging NU's administration and Board on its pro-military policies.  The absence of charges also redeems the faith of those who wrote on my behalf.  In early September, 2016, for those who knew neither Brand NU nor me, it would have been reasonable to infer that I must have done something horribly wrong to elicit this strong response.  Fortunately, many of you were familiar one or both parties and wrote letters that I know saved my job.  

Here's what else happened during 2016-17: NU's Faculty Senate Committee on Cause and Faculty Appeals Panel Executive Committee, as well as the American Association of University Professors sent a recommendation to  the Provost's office and a letter indicating that keeping me in a decrepit building on the campus perimeter and thwarting access to research funds were sanctions, and thus should require charges before being implemented.

Brand NU's response? Then-Provost Dan Linzer -- now heading off into the desert to run a small science foundation after the Chair of NU's Board complained about the handling of the Eikenberry appointment -- disregarded their findings and personal entreaties from faculty who made them.**

Meanwhile Political Science Department Chair Sara Monoson persisted with unprovoked  harrangues during incidental encounters and telling colleagues to stay away from me.

The links below are to the lawsuit that Tillery filed against me and those I was forced to file in response and to address ongoing retaliation, all part of the public record. 

For a description of events occurring between "the ban" Dean Adrian Randolph ordered on July 29, 2016 and lifted on September 19, as well as the subsequent office move, please go here

The three lawsuits are:
1) Alvin Tillery v. Jacqueline Stevens, 2016-L-010676, October 28, 2016. Tillery sued me for  defamation and false light invasion of privacy. The judge on April 28, 2017 dismissed Tillery's complaint without prejudice.  At the hearing, the judge questioned Tillery's attorney as to why she was pursuing a case that was such a poor use of everyone's resources. "Do you really want to ask 12 people to spend their time on this?" he asked.  Tillery apparently thought "yes," filed a largely identical amended complaint, and I filed a renewed motion to dismiss and my counter-claims, all of which are pending.  

2) Jacqueline Stevens v. Northwestern University, 2017-CH-03456, March 9, 2017.  In this lawsuit I seek enforcement of my contract's indemnification clause, which requires NU to provide faculty members with advance payment of fees and costs incurred when they are sued for actions taken in the course of their jobs.

3)  Jacqueline Stevens v. Northwestern University and Susan Sara Monoson, 2017-L-007067, July 13, 2017, seeking a remedy for breach of contract from NU and tortious interference with contract from Monoson, to restore research funds and office.

1.  Alvin Tillery v. Jacqueline Stevens, 2016-L-010676, October 28, 2016.

Plaintiff Tillery's Amended Complaint, May 10, 2017.  

Defendant Stevens v. Tillery Counterclaims, May 1, 2017.  (This has claims that also appear in the more expansive lawsuit against Monoson and Brand NU--in other words, you can save time if you read the one filed at #3.)

Defendant Stevens' 2d Motion to Dismiss, May 31, 2017.  I point out that according to his own allegations, I followed University policy for reporting unprofessional conduct.

Order granting Stevens' Unopposed Voluntary Motion to Dismiss Monoson from the Tillery Counterclaims, June 30, 2017.  (The charges against Monoson were filed in another lawsuit, below, alleging breach of contract, intentional interference with contract, and defamation per se.)

Plaintiff Tillery Response Opposing Motion to Dismiss, September 8, 2017.  
Tillery claims that I alleged criminal conduct and hence he can sue me for defamation and false light.

Plaintiff Tillery's Motion to Dismiss Counterclaims, September 8, 2017.  Tillery argues my complaints lack a legal basis because his claims to NU and the media about my statements, conduct, and assertion I might kill him were merely his opinion and thus not actionable.

Defendant Stevens' Reply to Tillery's Response to Motion to Dismiss Counterclaims, September 22, 2017.  
"In a misguided attempt to construe Defendant’s statements as imputing criminal conduct, the plaintiff, Alvin Tillery ('Plaintiff' or 'Tillery') emphasizes that Stevens is alleged to have accused Tillery of 'physically slammed the door toward her.' Resp. p. 6 (emphasis in original). Not only is the word 'physically' absent from the amended complaint, but Plaintiff materially mischaracterizes Stevens’ statements. Stevens’ actual statements, which are attached to the amended complaint and are therefore controlling, do not state or imply that Tillery committed assault when he slammed his office door" (p. 6).  Our reply also notes that Brand NU requires reporting events involving unprofessional conduct that are not criminal and that the precedents state that if it is possible to construe statements as not implicating criminal conduct, then courts should do so.

(My atttorney did not include my proposed sentence acknolwedging that Tillery slammed the door in a fashion consistent with accepted principles of Newtonian physics and did not employ telepathic or other paranormal powers.)

Defendant Stevens' Response Opposing Tillery's Motion to Dismiss Counterclaims, October 10, 2017.   "Tillery’s having couched his statements as opinion does not render them non-actionable speculation; rather, because they were verifiable statements about Stevens that purported to be based on unstated facts, they are defamatory and actionable...None of the cases to which Tillery cites in defense of his freedom to announce that Stevens was crazy involve mandatory legal and psychiatric examinations to assess the truth or falsity of persistent allegations about behavior, conduct, and statements." (pp. 6, 8).
2.  Jacqueline Stevens v. Northwestern University, 2017-CH-03456, March 9, 2017, complaint seeking enforcement of broad indemnification protection in NU's contract: “The right to indemnification conferred in this Article shall be a contract right and shall include the right to be paid by the University the expenses incurred in defending any such proceeding in advance of its final disposition . . . .”  (emphasis added).

NU Answer, June 27, 2017, alleging as an affirmative defense that I failed to appeal to a non-existent "Faculty Grievance Committee," and ignoring the numerous appeals I did make to our actual committees.

Stevens' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, July 19, 2017- if you are interested in faculty self-governance you need to read this.

NU Reponse Opposing Motion for Judgment on Pleadings, August 24, 2017.  NU claims that they do not have to adhere to the statements in their own contracts and that the expectation they name a committee NU actually has for requiring my appeal is "hyper-technical."

Stevens' Reply, September 14, 2017.  Attorney Kapitan points out NU misrepresented the case posture in their response brief and shows legal and interpretive flaws in NU response.

3.  Jacqueline Stevens v. Northwestern University and Susan Sara Monoson, 2017-L-007067, July 13, 2017, seeking a remedy for breach of contract from NU and tortious interference with contract from Monoson, to restore research funds and office.

NU Motion for Extension of Time, July 31, 2017, arguing that they failed to schedule a mediation or negotiation since May and therefore need more time to pursue this before filing a response.  We will be opposing this motion.  Their main rationale -- the case is complicated and there are related lawsuits -- are reasons to deny the request. NU's legal team is already familiar with the underlying facts and therefore should be able to focus on a response to this particular complaint expeditiously.  Nothing has prevented them from arranging a mediation or negotiation in the fall, winter, spring, or summer.  

There was supposed to be a hearing on this motion yesterday, but the judge wasn't there and the hearing was postponed until August 15.  


Brand NU contracts provide extremely broad coverage promising advance payment of legal fees for employees who face a range of legal events that arise out of their University work.  Alas, when it comes to faculty, and not the trustees and administrators who drafted this for their own benefit, Brand NU apparently forces faculty who are out of favor with the administration to sue and then spends exorbitant fees on its own outside counsel to litigate to avoid paying faculty attorneys.  In a 2011 indemnification case won by Professor Franck Mauvis-Jarvis,  Brand NU hired Sidley Austin LLP, a firm with four lawyers on NU's Board of Trustees in a failed effort to avoid paying Mauvis-Jarvis's attorney.  

My own lawsuit is just beginning, but if you want to a glimpse of Brand NU's scorched contract policy, you can see it in these key filings from Professor Franck Mauvis-Jarvis's successful lawsuit demanding preliminary injunctive relief for attorney fees incurred in proceedings arising from his employment at NU.    

Franck Mauvis-Jarvis v. Northwestern University, Indemnification complaint, July 21, 2010.

Mauvis-Jarvis Reply to Motion to Dismiss, February 7, 2011.

NU Answer, September 11, 2011.

Judge's order that Northwestern pay Mauvis-Jarvis attorney fees in advance, entered  May 19, 2011.

I'm posting these court documents because they are not available online and others forced to sue Brand NU to pay for their attorney fees may find this of use.

My own experience emblematizes a strategy created by university and corporate attorneys networked through the National Association of College and University Attorneys.  The previous leader of Brand NU's Office of General Counsel, Thomas Cline, was its president and NACUA recently feted Katheen Rinehart, the contract attorney who wrote the report alleging I was a threat to safety. A number of left faculty punished for academic speech are at institutions with attorneys active in NACUA.

The basic idea is to circumvent tenure by just firing people, or if that doesn't work, stigmatizing and marginalizing them.  It doesn't matter if there are no legal grounds for this.  Professors don't have multi-billion dollar endowments and can't pay for attorney fees after they're fired and don't have a salary.  The university wears them down until after a year or so they agree to settle and go away.  A further advantage of this strategy is that remedies for breach of contract by law tend to exclude attorney fees.  So after the dust settles, the most the tenured professor wins is reinstatement and compensation, which for the university advancing multimillion dollar agendas of their corporate boards is a small price to pay for keeping the trouble-maker out of their hair for a few years or, in most cases, forever.

This approach is directly antithetical to the integrity we expect from taxpayer subsidized institutions of higher education that promise independence to their faculty but lack meaningful oversight when trustees and administrators break this promise.  Faculty governance bodies need to demand universities follow their policy documents.  Alas, Brand NU seems to have a fraudulent relation to its policies--by holding them forth as evidence of good academic citizenship and then flagrantly violating them.  Consider Brand NU's recent banning and then firing a faculty member accused of murder.  Wyndham Lathem's attorney asserts his client is innocent of murder and of fleeing, and yet Brand NU simply fired the guy and presumably cut off his salary, without giving him any rights in the Faculty Handbook:  "Lathem was terminated for the act of fleeing from police when there was an arrest warrant out for him."  Was this discipline?  Is there anything in the Handbook that says you can be fired at will when the police allege a crime but it has not been proven?  Why not allow Lathem to appeal the termination to the Committee on Cause before it is implemented, as the Handbook requires?  The Handbook gives on 20 days for an appeal, so the termination before 20 days has elapsed is an obvious procedural violation.

(Brand NU also announced Lathem is banned from campus, though in the same earlier statement spokesman Al Cubbage said there was no indication Lathem posed a risk to the NU community. That got my attention.  I was not accused of anything in particular, much less murder, and yet Brand NU claimed I was a threat to safety.)

Of course it never looks good when a dead body is found in one's apartment.  I have no idea if Dr. Lathem is Mr. Hyde or someone with really, really bad luck.  But I do know that every time NU 's administration shreds its Faculty Handbook it provides more evidence that the folks in charge care only about a brand and nothing more, especially what it takes to educate our students and our society about integrity, following the rules, and avoiding injustice.

*UPDATE:  On August 14, 2017 I sent an email to Associate Provost Lindsay Chase-Lansdale noting that unless my office was moved within two days I would file a new appeal.  A day later, the Buffett Institute Associate Director informed me that someone would assist in unpacking my office in preparation for its confirmed move ten days later.  The Deportation Clinic was repacked and moved and we are working in the Scott Hall basement.]

**The total assets of Linzer's new organization Research Corporation for Scientific Advancement  (RCSA) are about 7% of Brand NU's annual operating budget. According to its 2015 public tax return, RCSA spent $2,550,746 on its ten highest paid employees to distribute $3,532,666 in grants, mostly in the form of repeat payments to about a dozen univeristies and colleges of about $17,5000 to $25,000 as well as payments for conferences and miscellaneous donations to unrelated organizations.  I mention this because we all need to be a lot more clear-eyed about how nonprofits are fleecing taxpayers and incentivizing financial parasites who manage these organizations' tax exempt wealth.  It looks like they are "earning" money for the the nonprofit endowments but  beneath the ledgers what's really happening are networked elites and their attorneys hoarding credit and preventing the release of funds tied up in corporate busy-ness to meet desperate public needs in the present.  RCSA's second  and third employment services expenditures are for the investment management firrm Angelo, Gordon, and Co. ($333,706) and Capital Guardian and Trust ($213, 223).   The CEO last year earned  622,794 in salary and an additional 93,110 in taxable benefits as well as $59,200 for an "expense account" that is presumably tax-exempt.