Board of Curators of the University of Missouri v. Horowitz

In Board of Curators of the University of Missouri v. Horowitz, 435 U.S. 78, 98 S.Ct. 948, 55 L.Ed.2d 124 (1978), the Supreme Court considered the quantum of due process owed by a state-run university to a dismissed medical student. The Court distinguished between dismissals from educational institutions on the basis of an "academic" rationale and those that may properly be characterized as "disciplinary." Id. at 89-90, 98 S.Ct. 948. The Court held that the dismissal of the medical student in Horowitz was "academic" rather than "disciplinary" because it "rested on the academic judgment of school officials that she did not have the necessary clinical ability to perform adequately as a medical doctor." Id. at 89-90, 98 S.Ct. 948. The Court further noted that an academic dismissal is one that involves "a school's determination of whether a student will make a good doctor," and the school's consideration of a student's personal attributes - in Horowitz they were hygiene and the ability to keep to a clinical schedule - may permissibly factor into this "academic" decision. Id. at 91 n. 6, 98 S.Ct. 948. More broadly, the Court characterized an academic dismissal as one being "more subjective and evaluative" than the "typical factual questions presented in the average disciplinary decision." Id. at 90, 98 S.Ct. 948. Academic dismissals, requiring as they do the "expert evaluation... and historic judgment of educators," bear "little resemblance to ... judicial and administrative fact-finding proceedings." Id. at 89-90, 98 S.Ct. 948. Disciplinary dismissals, by contrast, are those involving "the violation by a student of valid rules of conduct" or "disruptive and insubordinate behavior." Id. at 86, 90, 98 S.Ct. 948. Disciplinary dismissals, being more objective in nature and not dependent upon the analytical expertise of professional academicians, will bear a "resemblance to traditional judicial and administrative factfinding." Id. at 88-89, 98 S.Ct. 948.