University Lets Professor Who Created Its Online PR Program Go

Kent State University

Kent State UniversityKent State University’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication earned a bit of bad PR today for pulling what we call “a dick move“: choosing not to renew the contract of a non-tenure instructor who helped create its groundbreaking online PR masters program.

The summary: Kent State hired Gene Sasso, a longtime PR pro, to help create a program that has “generated $6M in revenue” over two years and then told him that it would not consider his review and that he would not be returning as a lecturer.

It would appear that the school let Sasso go in order to save a little money (after he created the highly successful program for which they hired him in the first place). While non-tenured professors get a performance/renewal review every year, tenured faculty only have to do it every three years–and after passing their first review they receive additional “union employment protection.”

Students and faculty registered their dissent, submitting letters to university administrators urging them to reconsider,  chastising them for deciding to terminate a popular lecturer without consulting faculty ahead of time and questioning whether the school followed union collective bargaining practices.

One question: We understand the financial concerns at work here, but how did the administration, with their communications know-how, not recognize this move as a major PR fail?