A formal grievance hearing concerning College of Liberal Arts Dean Linda Halisky’s removal of journalism department chair Bill Loving was held on Friday, November 19.

The hearing (which was the first in Cal Poly’s history) was called because Loving said Halisky participated in retaliatory acts by firing him and his rights were violated by Halisky when she fired him. Halisky’s representative, Michael Suess, said no rights were violated by Halisky because the department chair serves “at the pleasure of the dean” and the dean can fire any department chair for any reason that does not pertain to their basic civil rights.

During the six hour hearing, each side was allotted a 15-minute opening statement, two hours to present their case to a judiciary committee (made up of Dan Peterson, John Walker, Marcia Tilley and Clare Battista) and 15 minutes for a closing statement. Loving, who represented himself, had more than 60 e-mails, department reviews and seven witnesses to argue his case. Among the issues of contention were allegations that Loving had acted in a sexist manner toward Teresa Allen (the only female faculty member in the department), that he was a bully, that he had removed Allen from her office without her knowledge and that Halisky had never discussed with other faculty or staff members Loving’s removal.

Allen was not present at the hearing which was open to the public.

When discussing the sexism allegations, Loving asked female staff members whether they had seen him act in a sexist manner toward any female. Administrative support coordinators for the journalism and graphic communication departments, Tess Serna and Korla McFall, as well as College of Liberal Arts adviser to the journalism department Wendy Spradlin all said they had never seen him act in such a manner. Loving’s main point was that Allen had created “a beaten path” to the dean’s office in order to get her way in the department.

Allen’s behavior and attitude toward different faculty members and their fields was brought up many times during the hearing. At one point, a witness said Allen “acts like a 2-year-old” and that she has become a “problem” in the department. Loving expanded on the issue of Allen being a problem by presenting testimony from different faculty and staff members who said Allen had talked poorly about Loving behind his back and who felt personally antagonized by her.

During the administration’s allotted two hours to present its case, Seuss continually argued that the department chair serves at the pleasure of the dean, and Halisky didn’t have to go through the work of contacting Provost Robert Koob for his advice or meet with anyone to discuss her actions. Suess argued that in many instances when Allen had requested a meeting with Halisky or e-mailed Halisky complaining about something in the department, Halisky would refer her back to Loving or not answer her e-mails at all. Suess presented approximately 10 exhibits and at one point had Halisky read a grid which showed when Allen e-mailed her, what it was about and when Halisky had responded.

Koob also testified during the administration’s presentation. In asking Koob to testify, Suess wanted to point out how the journalism department has been an area of contention for a while. Koob said in the past year he has spent an “uncommon amount” of time dealing with journalism issues compared to other College of Liberal Arts departments.

In her personal testimony, Halisky said she removed Loving from his position because she “didn’t think it was going in the right direction” and she felt he often ruled in an “adversarial style” that did not work well in the department.

She especially pointed out a time when Allen was upset about the editors of the Mustang Daily ordering pizza on the advertising account some nights because she argued it blurred the lines between advertising and editorial. Halisky said Loving sided with Mustang Daily General Manager Paul Bittick on the matter instead of hearing both sides.

In closing statements, Loving said in his two years as department chair he worked to bring the faculty’s often contentious personalities together but said he had a hard time when different faculty members would undermine him and get upset.

“If I am to bring them forward kicking and screaming, how am I to do that without them getting upset?” Loving said.

In his closing statement, Suess maintained that Loving’s removal was because he did not demonstrate to the dean that he was able to bring the faculty together. Moreover, Suess said Loving’s arguments that his rights were violated are not legitimate.

“I think it’s important that as you go through this you separate the fact from the fiction,” Suess said.

The judiciary committee has two weeks to make the decision of whether or not to reinstate Loving as the journalism department chair.

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7 Comments

  1. You know something was up when Halisky was evasive and vague in her answers as to why Loving was fired.

    Allen was my adviser and I always didn’t feel like I could go to her. Talking to other people who also had her as an adviser, I found out she is very hard to get a hold of. Prof. Loving, on the other hand, was always very receiving and I enjoyed his classes immensely. It could be teaching styles or just their personalities, but I’m on Prof. Loving’s side.

    I feel like I’m just starting to hear about this ridiculousness within our department, and now with all these teachers leaving…it’s disheartening. And I, for one, am NOT happy about being a part of the “reforumlation” of the department. It means that my years here are going to be fractured, confusing, and unsatisfactory. Two years until new teachers? Sure, I get to be “part of the process”, but the end result is going to be after I get my degree…if I don’t become a super senior.

    Honestly, you can’t paint this situation in rainbows and unicorns, how we are putting all the strife behind us, when we’re forced to deal with the brunt of all this hostility in the department.

    I thought I was paying for a good education. If I wanted drama, I would have been a theater major. :/

  2. It’s really sad that the journalism department has fallen so far that it has come to this.
    From Havandjian to Ramos to Loving, the in-fighting has doomed any department chair brave enough to try to take on the task of galvanizing this disaster of a department.
    The fighting has driven away the gems of the department like Doug Swanson, and now the rest of the faculty appears to be headed elsewhere. But, can you blame them?
    There’s some element of the current faculty that doesn’t lend itself to teamwork or camaraderie. What that element is, I’ll let you decide.

  3. Writing this on my cell, so please excuse any typos:

    Wow. If they can’t behave like adults, fire them both and start over. Or bring Ramos back.

    While it’s true that Ramos has his flaws, he was still better than Loving and Dr. H combined. He and Teresa actually have real-world experience and can TEACH and INSPIRE instead of just govern like Loving. Honestly, he has a giant stick up his butt and spends most of his time holed up in his office playing online video games. Zero sense of humor or passion for the industry.

    1. Mr. Loving has a great sense of humor and is very passionate about his work. He also has real world experience, having worked as a reporter for years.

      Though I do agree with bringing Ramos back.

    2. Loving most definitively has a sense of humor, but this isn’t the point. It sounds like you’ve never had a law class with Loving. I’ll admit that I don’t think he is any good at teaching students to write. That’s not his strength. But as a law professor he is in fact quite inspiring and certainly does a great deal of teaching for any student willing to engage in his lessons. Loving isn’t the problem.

      Loving has demonstrated, to me at least, that he is concerned primarily with the students of the college.

      Halisky I’ve only ever heard speak at one journalism department meeting, but I got the distinct impression that her concern was not my well being as journalism student.

      As for Theresa Allen, I’d say she’s a pretty good teacher, but a manipulative person with poor motivations. I’ll take her classes, but I don’t trust her.

  4. Loving most definitively has a sense of humor, but this isn’t the point. It sounds like you’ve never had a law class with Loving. I’ll admit that I don’t think he is any good at teaching students to write. That’s not his strength. But as a law professor he is in fact quite inspiring and certainly does a great deal of teaching for any student willing to engage in his lessons. Loving isn’t the problem.

    Loving has demonstrated, to me at least, that he is concerned primarily with the students of the college.

    Halisky I’ve only ever heard speak at one journalism department meeting, but I got the distinct impression that her concern was not my well being as journalism student.

    As for Theresa Allen, I’d say she’s a pretty good teacher, but a manipulative person with poor motivations. I’ll take her classes, but I don’t trust her.

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