Journalism School Officials Reinstated

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(AP) Two white administrators of the Iowa State University journalism school are back at their jobs, two weeks after being removed in a racial dispute among faculty.

Chairman John Eighmey and Associate Chairman Joel Geske of the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication remained on the teaching staff but had been relieved of their administrative duties by Provost Rollin Richmond.

The removal followed the resignations of Linus Abraham, Osei Appiah and Spiro K. Kiousis, three junior faculty members who complained of a hostile environment that included racist remarks. Abraham and Appiah are black.

On Thursday, ISU President Gregory Geoffroy ordered Eighmey and Geske reinstated in their administrative roles while a university committee determines whether the complaints are credible.

Geoffroy also asked for a review of the administrators’ efficiency and an evaluation of the department.

The turmoil stemmed from the complaint of a senior professor that less experienced minority professors receive better treatment and were better paid, Richmond said.

The provost noted the problem may be rooted in a generational issue, compounded by differing philosophies over how best to teach journalism students.

In one written evaluation, a professor complained about “new, privileged minority hires” and “the unabated and unrelieved discriminatory backlash against established faculty.” Another wrote the six junior professors were given “all kinds of special privileges.”

The seven-page evaluation of Eighmey, in which 13 professors wrote comments, alleged “lack of leadership and trust” and complained of a perceived shift in priorities from teaching to research. Three called for a new chairman.

Eighmey, chairman since 1996, said Friday he was pleased to resume his leadership role and added he has confidence in the students, staff, and faculty.

He declined to respond to allegations of a hostile atmosphere or racist behavior, saying he believes the situation has been “miscast.”

“I think there are wonderful people in this building and they’re going to pull together and respond to the issues,” he said. “I think we all recognize that the Greenlee school is a very important part of the university and we want to really dedicate ourselves to its success.”

University president Geoffroy was not critical of the provost’s original decision to remove Eighmey and Geske.

“There are always a number of different ways to address issues like this,” Geoffroy said. “At the time, that was the decision Provost Richmond made. In the ensuing days, we’ve discussed the implications of the decision and how to move forward.”

Geske, Abraham and Kiousis did not return calls for comment. Appiah declined to comment.

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