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Attorneys say ex-UA dean being 'harassed' by Regents' subpoena in pay lawsuit

Janice Cervelli

Janice Cervelli

The attorneys representing the three women suing the Arizona Board of Regents for $2 million over what they view as gender-based pay inequity at the UA claims the regents’ attorneys are “trawling for dirt” on former Dean Janice Cervelli.

Cervelli was the University of Arizona’s dean of the College of Architecture from 2008 to 2016.

After leaving the UA, she was president of St. Mary’s College in South Bend, Indiana, until she abruptly resigned in early October. However, according to attorneys on the case, she is still employed by the school, although the Arizona Daily Star was unable to confirm her new position. She also served as a Clemson University dean between 2000 and 2007.

In a document filed Oct. 26 in federal court in Tucson, her attorneys said the subpoena by Board of Regents attorneys served to St. Mary’s and Clemson for her “entire personnel file and all other documents relating to her hiring or employment in any way” was “overbroad” and meant to intimidate and embarrass Cervelli, penalize her for the lawsuit and to undermine her standing with her current and future employers by labeling her as “troublesome and litigious.”

In the request for Cervelli’s records to St. Mary’s, regents’ attorneys asked for any documents relating to “claims or complaints by or about her and any response to or investigation therof.”

Attorneys of the law firm Sanford Heisler Sharp, which is representing the three former UA deans, asserted in the motion that it is standard practice that “such subpoenas be used only as a ‘last-resort’ to discover necessary information.” In this case, the subpoena was issued before “serving even a single discovery demand on Plaintiff (Cervelli).”

The attorneys called it “naked retaliation” against Cervelli for joining the lawsuit, which was originally filed in January by Patricia MacCorquodale, a former Honors College dean, alleging gender-based pay discrimination at the university. The former deans said they were paid less while working at the UA than male deans holding the same jobs.

MacCorquodale remains at the UA as a tenured professor.

Joan Shaver joined the lawsuit on Aug. 17. She stepped down after nine years as dean of the College of Nursing shortly before joining the lawsuit. Shaver is now a nursing professor in the college.

The judge prohibited the release of information obtained by the subpoenas until both sides could make their arguments in court. The judge then issued an order saying either side could designate information as confidential.

The Board of Regents does not comment on pending litigation, said board communications VP Sarah Harper.

Contact Mikayla Mace at mmace@tucson.com or 573-4158. Follow on Facebook and Twitter.


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