Former VP of Communications, AVP of USF Health Communications leaves USF

By By Divya Kumar, EDITOR IN CHIEF
On February 4, 2013

Former vice president of communications for USF and associate vice president of USF Health Communications Michael Hoad, the longtime voice of USF at press conferences ranging from the firing of Jim Leavitt to budget cuts, left USF after 25 years.

I love the university and I love everyone there, Hoad said in an email to The Oracle. But its time to move on and create my own future.

Hoad said Sunday night he could not comment as to why he left due to legal reasons.

He resigned from his position as vice president of communications in September, but retained his position at USF Health.

In October 2012, Hoad, who reported directly to USF President Judy Genshaft, was the subject of a DEO investigation that found sufficient evidence that he created a hostile work environment on the basis of gender after female employees of the University Communications and Marketing office filed charges of sexual harassment.

While the investigator stated in the DEO report that there was no evidence to suggest that Hoad engaged in quid pro quo sexual harassment or that a hostile environment was created, she wrote there was sufficient evidence to support the allegation that a hostile and offensive working atmosphere was created on the basis of gender, and that it was potentially violative of state and federal anti-discrimnation laws.

It was clear to this Investigator that Hoad does not believed he engaged in any unlawful discriminatory conduct based on gender, Mary Li Creasy, the external investigator contracted by the DEO, stated in the report. He believes he made a few isolated comments that were not intended to offend or harm anyone. Unfortunately, the information offered by at least five other witnesses suggests that Hoad created a hostile and offensive work environment.

Hoad said he was not legally able to comment on the DEO case on Sunday, but in late November appealed the finding.

It is with nothing but sadness that I have prepared this appeal, he wrote in a letter of appeal in November. I have no history, personally or professionally, that even hints at the conclusions presented in the final report of the investigator. My history has been one of advocacy for communications professionals, most of whom are women. I have successfully hired diverse and talented people, and either hired or promoted each of the people who found fault with me. While there were instances of unprofessional behavior for which Im deeply sorry there was no sustained discrimination based on gender.

In his letter of appeal, Hoad stated that some allegations were unfair and taken out of context and that other mitigating factors were not taken into account.

His appeal was denied by Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, Dwayne Smith, who was appointed by Genshaft to respond to the appeal.

Based on the overall volume and weight of the evidence, I cannot conclude that the investigators Analysis and Conclusion sections are substantively negated to the point that the determination is overturned, he wrote.

Hoad submitted a letter of resignation to Genshaft from his position as vice president of communications in September and stated he would return to working for USF Health full time. Genshaft responded with a two-sentence email stating she accepted his resignation and that Chief of Staff Cynthia Visot would serve in the interim position.

USF Media and Public Affairs Coordinator Adam Freeman said the University does not comment on personnel issues and thus could not comment on the DEO case.

Hoad said in an email to The Oracle that his last day at USF was Friday.

By Divya

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