Dean ousts Cal Poly journalism chair

August 5, 2010

Bill Loving


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.

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“I am embarrassed and appalled at the lack of representation of department faculty at our graduation,” Allen said. “The students deserve more.”

PLEASE. This is an absolute joke. Allen is the most selfish and destructive professor in the department. She openly insults the PR concentration at every opportunity. And what kind of respectable professor makes a fuss over moving offices?! Pathetic.

Oops, you probably shouldn’t listen to me. As Allen would say, I’m just an “unethical” PR student.

Thank you, Professor Loving, for your support of the public relations concentration. PR students (a staggering 45% of the department) have been dealt a fatal blow. As if losing Dr. Swanson wasn’t enough!

Allen and Halisky need to do some serious soul searching. And for the sake of the entire university, Cal Poly needs to make some changes to the Lib Arts administration.

My daughter is a recent Cal poly graduate and I do have to say this information about the Cal poly journalism department does not make me happy. In the 5 years she studied toward her journalism degree, the requirements changed at least 3 times making it harder, longer and more expensive to graduate. I think this is at least the 3rd chair in the time she was there. So while these high paid educators battle it out I can hardly sympathize with any of them…I think they should all be fired and a staff brought in that thinks of the STUDENTS first. And while I’m ranting “what about a refund for the extra year that the new chair decided to tag on at the end?”CPMOM

I hope the new Chair keeps a close eye on Teresa Allen. She plans on changing part of the curriculum so that they can engage students to write free material for her “privately owned” online magazine that she plans to launch in the fall. A large part of her planned columns is to have students patronize all the local bar scenes interviewing the patrons and writing about the venues to garner advertising for Allen’s new enterprise. Loving’s refusal to allocate a bunch of student interns to her private endeavor was part of the catalyst that set the final staging and Allen on her quest to have the Chair removed. Shame on you, Dean Halisky.

Bill Loving was, is and always will be one giant bully. Check back into why he left the University of Oklahoma and how he attempted suing the university. If the department is a snake pit, he is the biggest snake of them all.

Sounds like a real “snake pit” up there.

Wow, reading this makes me wonder who the bigger scumbucket is, Loving, providing emails and backstory to bolster his ‘woe is me’ case, or the reporter, who has quite obviously taken sides – did you not take Journalism 101? No one faculty member should be allowed to hold a department hostage to their whims, no reporter should allude to a relationship that does’t exist, disgraceful all around. How is this Loving going to work within the department productively? Will he teach? Will he continue to whine/bully? Will the squeaky wheel get greased? Such suspense. You all should go back to work for the students and be grateful you have jobs with such excellent pay and benefits. Just as anyone who challenges a will is left with nothing, maybe lawsuits/discrimination claims should be handled in the same manner – gotta problem with your professional peers – deal with it productively or leave, file a lawsuit and get no pay until it is resolved. Grow up, all of you and try and make this site something more than the SLO Enquirer!

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2009 Salaries:

Linda Halisky $161,817.44

Teresa Allen $86,142.47

Bill Loving $96,604.68

Halisky is way overpaid.

Sounds like the person who should be asked to leave is Halisky as she seems to be the real problem. Allen is going to complain and create contention as long as the Dean continues to practice cronyism rather than assuming the posture of a professional department head.

This girl’s club needs to be just shut down; it won’t matter who Halisky brings in if she continues to accommodate the juvenile tirades demonstrated by Teresa Allen. These two girls are an embarrassment to CalPoly.

Agreed!! I love the idea of “shutting down the girls club”. Halisky needs to take control and earn that over-bloated salary, and stop accommodating the whims of people like Allen.