Updated: 1:02 p.m., Jan. 26, 2018, to include more details from filing
Former assistant professor Michael Rodriguez has fired back at Elon University's motion to dismiss his discrimination lawsuit.
A year after his lawsuit was initiated, Rodriguez filed 2,270 pages worth of declarations and exhibits in response to Elon’s motion to dismiss his case. Rodriguez's lawsuit said the university discriminated against him because of his Puerto Rican heritage — paying him less than his white colleagues, refusing his tenure and allowing his contract to expire.
His Jan.19 response includes declarations from former colleagues and students who had worked closely with Rodriguez during his time at Elon. Each individual declaration lauded Rodriguez's qualifications for promotion and tenure, which he was denied during the 2014-2015 academic year.
One of those former colleagues, Mary Gowan, the former dean of the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business and current dean of the College of Business at James Madison University, spoke highly of Rodriguez in a sworn declaration dated Dec. 22, 2017.
“During my time as his dean and then as a colleague in the LSB, Dr. Rodriguez enjoyed an excellent professional reputation at Elon," Gowan said. "There were no issues concerning his interactions with faculty or staff."
Gowan’s statement also referenced a "vote sheet" from the promotions and tenure committee concerning Rodriguez's evaluation, with five votes in favor and three votes against. Gowan noted any conflict between the committee and the dean's recommendation for tenure would have resulted in a meeting among the dean, committee and provost.
“A simple majority is sufficient to recommend advancement to promotion and tenure by the P&T Committee,” Gowan said. “This vote by the P&T Committee was sufficient to recommend Dr. Rodriguez for promotion and tenure.”
In an affidavit dated Nov. 28, 2017, Provost Steven House said he received "no" recommendations from both the committee and Dean Raghu Tadepalli.
Rodriguez's response included two evaluations from the promotions and tenure committee — one voting 5-3 in favor, and another voting 2-6 against tenure and promotion, and 3-5 against tenure only.
In Rodriguez's deposition dated Sept. 26, 2017, he specifically mentioned current and former colleagues in the Love School of Business whom he said held prejudices against people of color.
"I am no stranger to discrimination and so when I look at harassment, this was probably the worst that I have ever seen in my life," said Rodriguez in his deposition. "I'm not a person who wants to cry discrimination, but when someone treats you differently, and you see others not getting that same treatment, you know, there's got to be something, and that something had to be because of my Hispanic origin."
In his deposition, Rodriguez said the case proceedings had caused him emotional distress and that the events had taken a toll on his family's emotions. Rodriguez has resettled his family in Raleigh, where he works as a full-time associate professor at Skema Business School.
"What I went through was god-awful, and hopefully no one else goes through it," said Rodriguez in his deposition.
Elon University declined to comment citing the university’s policy not to comment on pending or active litigations.