Samuel Bradley, the director of USF’s Zimmerman School of Advertising and Mass Communications, was placed on paid administrative leave Wednesday after a report surfaced detailing his inappropriate relationships with multiple students at his last job.
While working at Texas Tech University from 2006 to 2013, Bradley was the subject of an investigation that found he had had romantic and sexual relationships with at least three of his students and another student who wasn’t in his courses.
If the university permits relationships between faculty and students, a random incident wouldn’t be something worth worrying over. In fact, several professors across the country have ended up in healthy relationships and married to their former students.
But having one relationship in your career is not the same as having affairs with multiple girls and bragging about them to your graduate students. The investigation into Bradley’s affairs found that he would often show text messages from the students to his other graduate students and openly discuss the relationships.
This is the sixth time in five years the Zimmerman School of Advertising and Mass Communications has had to find a new director. However, the recent scandal has many asking why USF was not aware of the situation prior to hiring Bradley.
“As is USF’s standard practice, a criminal background check was completed prior to Bradley’s hire in August 2013 as a Visiting Associate Professor and Interim Director of the Zimmerman Advertising Program,” Adam Freeman, USF media and public affairs manager, said in an email to the Oracle.
Obviously, a simple criminal background check is not enough to ensure dangerous people don’t slip through the cracks.
Instead of looking into to why Bradley was fired from his previous occupation or even doing a simple character study of its new employee, USF offered him a job out of desperation to fill the position.
It wasn’t until the Tampa Tribune launched its own investigation that USF was even aware of the issue.
Bradley’s sordid past wasn’t even remotely hidden. Not only were there complaints from several students at his prior university, his then-wife also brought the scandal to light after she busted the window from the car of one of the girls he was sleeping with and posted about the affair on Facebook.
This information wouldn’t have been easy to hide and could have been extracted with just a miniscule amount of searching. Instead, students were put at risk by having the program run by a man known for not only having multiple relationships, but also causing graduation delays for students with whom he has problems.
Bradley was not someone any university should hire. In their investigation, they found, “the report also said Bradley made comments to other faculty members that he could hire whoever he wanted and use his faculty senate purchasing card for office items unrelated to faculty senate business.”
“He made statements such as ‘the rules do not apply to me,’” the report said.
While it is important for USF to have someone filling the director’s position in order for things to run smoothly for students, it is crucial they take the time to find a competent person to do the job.
Do a thorough background check and make sure future employees will not continue to bring disgrace upon the university. USF is a fantastic school and it is only right they make sure every hire will only further improve that reputation rather than drag our programs through the mud.