CSU-Pueblo settles suit; prof alleged retaliation for speaking out
- By Robert Boczkiewicz, The Pueblo Chieftain
DENVER — Colorado State University-Pueblo said Tuesday it has resolved the lawsuit of a professor who claimed the university’s former president retaliated against him for vociferously speaking out in 2014 against plans to cut staff.
“As stewards of the public trust, the University determined that the best use of resources was to resolve this matter without further litigation,” the current president, Timothy Mottet, wrote in a statement to The Pueblo Chieftain.
Professor Timothy McGettigan sued CSU-Pueblo in 2015 in U.S. District Court in Denver, claiming former President Lesley Di Mare violated his right of free speech. Among other things, he alleged she prevented him for 13 months from sending campus group email.
She planned to terminate as many as 50 employees due to a budget shortfall.
Last year, Judge Philip Brimner denied Di Mare’s request to dismiss McGettigan’s lawsuit. The judge had set Oct. 16 to begin a trial of the case.
“The cost of litigation would far exceed the settlement amount in both dollars and employee time spent assisting in the litigation and attending the trial,” Mottet wrote.
His statement did not say how many dollars the state is paying McGettigan to drop his lawsuit.
Mottet said the university is forming a faculty task force that will be charged with developing a set of recommendations to promote free speech, campus safety and civil discourse.
He also said the university “is committed to freedom of speech and expression as foundations of a higher learning community. Like all colleges and universities today, we also recognize the complex challenge of balancing First Amendment rights with the need to ensure a safe campus climate that is welcoming and inclusive for all our students, staff, faculty and community.”
McGettigan said in a statement he is ” very pleased to arrive at a settlement that reaffirms the importance of free speech and academic freedom in the Colorado State University System.”
His attorney, Elizabeth Wang of the Loevy & Loevy law firm in Boulder said the resolution of McGettigan’s claims “is a vindication of his right to free speech, and we are pleased that the University is reaffirming its commitment to the value of freedom of speech and expression, especially in an institution of higher learning.”
CSU-Pueblo said he violated campus communication policy that prohibits messages intended to intimidate, threaten, harass other individuals or to interfere with the activity of others to conduct university business.