Appealing University Internal Decisions

The Court previously concluded that universities are entitled to deference in some of their internal decisions. In Napolitano v. Trustees of Princeton Univ., 186 N.J. Super. 548, 570, 453 A.2d 263 (App.Div.1982), for example, we refused to re-try the issue of plagiarism and decided to "review the evidence before the [academic body] and . . . determine whether the evidence presented was sufficient to support the [decision]." In Beukas v. Board of Trustees of Fairleigh Dickinson Univ., 255 N.J. Super. 552, 605 A.2d 776 (Law Div.1991) , aff'd, 255 N.J. Super. 420, 605 A.2d 708 (App.Div.1992), the Court affirmed the trial court's conclusion that the relevant inquiry when reviewing a university's decision to cease operations due to financial difficulties is one of arbitrary, capricious, or bad faith conduct. No New Jersey case has yet determined that a university's domicile decisions are subject to the arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable review standard. However, several out-of-state cases have so decided. Webster v. State Bd. of Regents, 123 Ariz. 363, 599 P.2d 816, 818 (1979) (concluding that to reverse a resident tuition decision, "the trial court must find that the agency has acted arbitrarily, capriciously, or has abused its discretion"); Allen v. Scherer, 452 N.E.2d 1031, 1035 (Ind.Ct.App.1983) (deciding that where the findings on resident tuition "could reasonably have given rise to two different inferences, the inference chosen by the agency must be sustained even though the court might have chosen a different inference"); Peck v. University Residence Committee of Kansas State Univ., 248 Kan. 450, 807 P.2d 652, 660 (1991) (limiting court's review to whether the residence decision was "unreasonable, arbitrary or capricious"); Norman v. Cameron, 127 N.C.App. 44, 488 S.E.2d 297, 300, review denied, 347 N.C. 398, 494 S.E.2d 416 (1997) (concluding that university's residence based tuition decision must be upheld if supported by substantial evidence); Frame v. Residency Appeals Comm. of Utah State Univ., 675 P.2d 1157, 1165 (Utah 1983) (declaring university's resident based tuition determination subject to arbitrary and capricious standard); Ravindranathan v. Virginia Commonwealth Univ., 258 Va. 269, 519 S.E.2d 618, 620 (1999) (finding university's denial of in-state tuition was supported by evidence and was not unreasonable).