Tag Archive for Bill Sledzik

Kent State lecturer let go after creating successful program

Gene Sasso left a longtime career in public relations to take a non-tenure-track teaching position at Kent State University, where he helped create a hugely successful online PR master’s program. It enrolled more than 260 students and generated more than $6 million in revenue, according to a Feb. 26 story in Inside Higher Ed.

Sasso, whose name still appears in the faculty directory, says he was “flabbergasted” when he was told he would not be rehired for the 2013-2014 academic year. He was given no reason.

Faculty in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, led by PR professor Bill Sledzik and backed by the university’s tenure-track unit of AAUP, protested Sasso’s dismissal — to no avail. The school’s director, Thor Wasbotten, (thor@kent.edu) refused to allow Sasso’s upcoming three-year review to proceed, a move that would have required the university to give a reason for not renewing his contract.

Deborah C. Smith, the grievance and arbitration chair for Kent’s AAUP, said the university erred by not consulting faculty before refusing to renew Sasso’s contract.
The story has attracted attention from The Adjunct Project, which reported that Seth Kahn, a tenured faculty member and adjunct advocate at West Chester University, wrote a letter to Kent State University President Lester Lefton. Kahn “called on KSU either to renew Professor Sasso for another year, or to issue a clear and public explanation for the university’s refusal to do so.”