Ohio Journalism School Struggles With Tenure Fight

Heated arguments over rejection of tenure for professor grips journalism school.

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It's getting ugly in Athens.

Ohio University's Scripps College of Communication officials defended their decision in front of a packed house on Friday to deny a popular journalism professor tenure, the Ohio University student newspaper, the Post, reports. The three-hour tenure appeal was heated, with a standing-room-only crowd of students and faculty attending the hearing. The disagreements eventually led to a shouting match. Bill Reader, who started teaching at Ohio in 2002, was the first Ohio journalism professor in 14 years to have tenure rejected.

Reader alleges professional jealousy and personal disagreements led to his rejection. But the administrators behind the rejection say Reader was a noncollegial bully and incapable of working with others, according to the Post. The argument has consumed the journalism school, which is one of the top schools in the nation.

“This is not right,” student Alex Levin tells the Post. “It’s going to be a travesty for the journalism school. This is a failure to future journalism students.”

The support from students and faculty was a stark contrast to the picture painted by school officials.

"Three of my female faculty members were afraid," College of Communication Director Tom Hodson said. "Three of my faculty felt threatened by this man."

After the fireworks and drama from the hearing, an ad hoc faculty senate tenure committee has two weeks to write a formal recommendation letter to award or deny Reader tenure, the report says. Then Ohio University President Roderick McDavis has 30 days to make a final decision.

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Updated on 02/04/10: A previous version of this article featured a quotation that was incorrectly attributed by Ohio University’s student newspaper.