By: David Pitt, Associated Press Writer
(AP) The Iowa State University journalism department is torn by racial tension that has apparently contributed to the departure of two black faculty members and the suspension of its two top administrators.
John Eighmey, chairman of the Greenlee School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and Joel Geske, associate chairman, were asked to step down from their administrative duties May 3.
Provost Rollin Richmond said the two had allowed a contentious atmosphere to exist that led to racial tension. He said they remain on the faculty and could be reinstated.
Eighmey and Geske did not return repeated calls this week and last.
Richmond said he learned through conversations with the junior professors who recently resigned — Linus Abraham, Osei Appiah and Spiro K. Kiousis — that a senior faculty member said that younger minority professors are better paid then senior white professors. Abraham and Appiah are black.
Richmond would not identify the professor who made the remarks. Abraham, Appiah and Kiousis did not return repeated calls.
Richmond said the racial comments may have contributed to the resignations of the three professors but were not the only reason. He said the problem appears to stem from a generational difference among faculty members and conflicting opinions over the department’s focus.
Richmond placed Peter Rabideau, the dean of liberal arts and sciences, in charge of the department to resolve the disputes.
“There is racial tension, but the racial tension was the result of a philosophical tension between the young faculty members and the senior faculty members, and because minority faculty members were involved this then evolved into racial tension,” Rabideau said. “I don’t think it was ever the primary issue.”
The journalism school has 14 senior faculty members and eight junior faculty members.