Dean ousts Cal Poly journalism chair
August 5, 2010
By KAREN VELIE
Note: CalCoastNews editor George Ramos, who is a member of the Journalism faculty at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo and a former department chair, elected not to be involved in the reporting and editing of this article to avoid a conflict of interest.
Cal Poly Liberal Arts College Dean Linda Halisky asked journalism department chair Bill Loving to step down Thursday. When he refused, the dean announced he would be terminated, amid allegations by a faculty member that she had been treated unfairly.
University officials said that Graphic Communication Department Chair Harvey Levenson will replace Loving on Aug. 20, but declined to discuss Loving’s termination, saying they do not discuss personnel matters. Loving will continue working at Cal Poly as a tenured professor.
In Halisky’s last evaluation of Loving, she noted that there are “antagonisms between and among his staff.”
A few weeks ago, Halisky informed Loving and the Journalism faculty that she doubted his ability to lead and was considering having him replaced. Loving said the dean at that time refused to provide specific allegations so that he could have an opportunity to give a rebuttal.
“In talking today, she said the relationship we have had and Doug Swanson’s resignation are the issues,” Loving said.
However, Swanson, who left Cal Poly for a position at Cal State Fullerton, makes it clear that Loving was not responsible for his departure.
Though calling the Journalism department “a snake pit,” in his May letter of resignation to Halisky, Swanson writes, “I want to make it clear that, despite the grossly dysfunctional work environment in journalism, Bill Loving has made some positive changes in the department and is not responsible for my departure.
“I am sorry, but I think you will have a very difficult time recruiting and keeping a faculty member in the public relations concentration. It is difficult to imagine why a prospective faculty member who knows what this work environment is like – would want to work here.”
Swanson notes that when Loving does something a faculty member does not like, the common retort has been: “Well I’ll just go to Linda (Halisky) and get her to step in.”
Journalism professor Teresa Allen has gone to the dean numerous times to complain about Loving, the department and changes in class curriculum, often circumventing the usual chain of authority.
Loving said Halisky has not consulted with any faculty or staff members, aside from Allen, about his leadership.
“I believe Halisky’s decision was based on misstatements and the dean’s interaction with a specific faculty member,” Loving said. “Except for Teresa Allen, not one faculty member was consulted about my leadership during the past year.”
Criticism of Allen by faculty, staff and students started soon after she made her disapproval of Loving’s managership public. Some of her critics are claiming she is retaliating against the chair over policy differences.
The relationship between Allen and Loving began to sour in the spring of 2009 after Allen sent out a mass email voicing her disappointment in the chair and other faculty.
“I am embarrassed and appalled at the lack of representation of department faculty at our graduation,” Allen said. “The students deserve more.
“I don’t care what the excuses are. Right now, I am sorry to call you colleagues,” Allen said.
In his defense, Loving said he had purchased nonrefundable airline tickets for a European vacation prior to being hired at Cal Poly.
On Aug. 3, 2009, Allen and Loving argued in person and through emails, obtained by CalCoastNews, over Loving’s plan to move around five department offices. In the email, Allen voiced outrage over Loving’s plans to move two staff members into her office while providing Allen a smaller space.
She ends the email by saying she will be happy to go to Linda (Halisky) about this.
Meanwhile, Loving had been discussing the proposed changes with Halisky who said in an email that “regarding space” and other issues Loving should “bring your people forward, as you can, kicking and screaming if you must.”
Shortly after the office rotation, Allen sent an email to numerous faculty and staff members contending she had no idea Loving had planned to move her office and also asserting the move had happened two months earlier while she was in Peru.
“I have been evicted from my department office (while I was teaching in the study abroad program in Peru this summer) with nary a word from the chair and bumped into a tiny space where Doug Swanson once was,” Allen said in her email on Sept. 4, 2009. “I’ve protested to no avail and have finally refused to move in.
“Believe it or not, Paul made some arrangement with Bill (Loving) and he and his new ad director are moving into my office!”
Halisky emailed Allen back that Loving should have discussed the rotation plan with her before the move. She also said she was “deeply sympathetic.”
Loving is the third chair to be removed by Halisky in less then eight years.
“I am keeping my options open,” Loving said.