Lecturer refused injunctions pending professorship challenge

Dr Joan Buckley challenging UCC decision not to shortlist her in contest for 10 positions

Dr Joan Buckley,  a senior lecturer   at UCC,  leaving the Four Courts today after she was refused injunctions pending the outcome of her High Court challenge to a decision not to shortlist her in a competition for 10 professorial positions. Photograph: Courts Collins

Dr Joan Buckley, a senior lecturer at UCC, leaving the Four Courts today after she was refused injunctions pending the outcome of her High Court challenge to a decision not to shortlist her in a competition for 10 professorial positions. Photograph: Courts Collins

 

A senior lecturer at University College Cork has been refused injunctions pending the outcome of her High Court challenge to a decision not to shortlist her in a competition for 10 professorial positions.

Ms Justice Miriam O’Regan said Dr Joan Buckley, senior lecturer and head of the Management and Marketing Department at UCC, believes she was sufficiently qualified to be shortlisted.

The qualitative judgment as to who should be shortlisted was delegated exclusively to a selection committee, the judge said, and the court did not accept that, because the views of the committee did not mirror those of Dr Buckley, the process was flawed.

In her action, Dr Buckley claims the process engaged in by UCC to appoint 10 professors at Cork University Business School was “tainted” and “flawed”, should be set aside and a new process put in its place.

She had asked the High Court for an injunction preventing the interview process proceeding pending the full hearing of her action against UCC.

Her exclusion from the shortlist, given her academic record and years working at various senior posts at UCC, was regarded as “inexplicable” by many at the university, she said.

She feared the failure to make the shortlist would cause incalculable damage to her career.

Claims denied

UCC denies the claims and opposed the injunction application.

The court previously heard 260 people applied for the 10 positions at Cork University Business School and 36 were shortlisted for interview.

Dr Buckley argued she was given assurances, when taking up various positions, that future promotional prospects would not be placed at risk.

Addressing those arguments, Ms Justice O’Regan said Dr Buckley was aware by June 2014 it was not within the privilege of any particular individual outside of the normal routes of external competition or internal promotion to afford her any commitment as to promotion to professorial level.

There was no material evidence before the court to support a contractual right to promotion, or be shortlisted, save the internal promotional process which Dr Buckley chose not to pursue, the judge said.

Regarding Dr Buckley’s complaint that she had met the criteria and benchmark for appointment as professor, the judge said presumably some one or more of the 223 other disappointed applicants also met the criteria.

It was the choice of the selection committee, not Dr Buckley, as to which of the applicants who met the minimum criteria should be shortlisted, the judge said.