CHARLESTON – A professor is suing the West Virginia University Board of Governors after he claims he was not promoted to full professor even though he should have been.
Dr. K. Subramani began his employment with WVU in August 2000 as an assistant professor at the Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering and was promoted to associate professor and granted tenure in 2006, according to a complaint filed Feb. 2 in Kanawha Circuit Court.
During the academic year of 2011-2012, Subramani was eligible for promotion and applied for a promotion to full professor, but was denied on May 15, 2012, by Provost Michele Wheatly following a review by Associate Provost C.B. Wilson.
Subramani claims the review performed was flawed, arbitrary and capricious and violated his due process rights.
The Department's Promotion and Tenure Committee determined that Subramani "has made significant contributions to the teaching mission," and in fact, their overall recommendation was in favor of promotion for full professor, according to the suit.
"Yet it was at this level that the first misapplication of criteria concerning graduate students and mentoring was introduced," the complaint states.
Subramani claims in the committee's recommendation, it stated that when it comes to student advising, the committee had serious concerns regarding very low number of graduate students completing their degrees under his supervision and, as a land grant institution, WVU clearly identifies education, retention and graduation of students as its core mission.
There is no WVU guideline that supports the notion that faculty have an obligation to mentor one small subset of the student population toward completion of their degrees, let alone that it is part of the university's "core mission," according to the suit.
Subramani claims in the review by department chairman Brian D. Woerner, he inappropriately emphasized on the element of graduate student advising and because of this, he was not promoted.
The plaintiff was entitled to have his request for promotion assessed only on the basis of acceptable criteria and not a consideration that is without foundation in his appointment letter and applicable university and college written policies and guidelines, according to the suit.
Subramani claims the College P&T Committee recommended that he be promoted to full professor and that there was no WVU guideline that states that states that graduate student advising should be a primary focus.
WVU Dean Gene Cilento did not follow the recommendation of the College P&T Committee and instead, he concurred with the department chairman, according to the suit.
Subramani is seeking promotion to the rank of full professor and compensatory damages with pre- and post-judgment interest. He is being represented by Jacques Williams of Hamstead, Williams & Shook PLLC.
The case is assigned to Circuit Judge Carrie Webster.
Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 15-C-295