Hulen v. Yates

From July 1995 to March 2003
Colorado State University (Public college or university)
Fort Collins, CO, United States

Identity of Speakers

  • Myron Hulen

    Myron Hulen was a tenured faculty member in the department of accounting at Colorado State University.

Additional Information

  • Incident Nature:
  • Incident Political Orientation:
  • Incident Responses:
    Faculty sanctioned
  • Incident Status:
  • Did not involve Speech Codes


Myron Hulen was a tenured faculty member in the department of accounting at Colorado State University. Beginning in 1995, Hulen cooperated with other members of the accounting department in seeking to revoke the tenure of a colleague on grounds of plagiarism and copyright violations, emotional abuse of students, abuse and harassment of staff, misuse of state funds, receipt of kickbacks from a publisher in return for adopting textbooks, and other charges. In 1996, Hulen was transferred involuntarily from the accounting department into the management department. In response to this transfer, Hulen filed grievances, but these were ultimately dismissed.

Hulen then filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Colorado against various university administrators and Colorado State University, alleging that his transfer to the management department was in retaliation for his “whistle blowing” and public allegations against his colleague and that the transfer denied him of a property interest (an appointment in the accounting department) without due process. The court ruled that Hulen’s First Amendment claims could go to trial, and it granted Hulen’s motion for summary judgment on his Fourteenth Amendment claims.

On appeal, university administrators argued that there was no constitutional violation with respect to Hulen’s First and Fourteenth Amendment claims. Also at issue was the question of whether they had qualified immunity. On March 4, 2003, the court affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court’s ruling: Hulen’s statements concerning his colleague’s misbehavior constituted speech of public concern protected from relation under the First Amendment, Hulen possessed a property interest in his position as a tenured professor, and Hulen was afforded all process due to him upon transfer to the management department without mutual consent.