Zimmerman School director under investigation

In light of recent information uncovered about current director of the Zimmerman School of Advertising and Mass Communications Samuel Bradley, the university has some serious questions to answer regarding hiring standards.

After a Tampa Tribune investigation uncovered a scandal featuring Bradley and several of his students from a previous institution, the university placed him on paid administrative leave and is accepting any pertinent information available through the use of the website Ethicspoint.

“Ethicspoint is a third party hosted hotline to enable the safe, secure, and anonymous reporting of activities which may involve work place misconduct, harassment, fraud, abuse, and other violations of USF policies,” an email sent to mass communications students said.

Bradley was placed on administrative leave after the school learned of his inappropriate relationships with students at his previous job at Texas Tech University in Lubbock.

In the meantime, the university is seriously considering future action with regard to Bradley’s employment.

These relationships include sexual and romantic relationships with at least two female graduate students, a female undergraduate student and an “extremely close personal relationship” with a male graduate student Bradley was advising for his dissertation. The report also said that Bradley was sleeping with the student’s ex-girlfriend at the time.

Shortly after being hired in 2006, Bradley initiated a relationship with a graduate student. At least three individuals witnessed the two making out at a bar. They were also discovered sharing a room at a conference in Chicago, where he openly discussed their sexual relationship with other students.

According to the investigation, he was also heard insulting her appearance and calling her a lesbian. One of his graduate students reported that he continued his relationship with her after she graduated.

“While a relationship with a former student does not violate any university policy, his relationship with [her] while he was [her professor] was clearly a conflict of interest and violates the Texas Tech University Operating Policies and Regents’ Rules,” the report said.

The investigation also found that in 2009 Bradley was having a sexual relationship with a graduate student in one of his classes. After being told by the Dean to end the relationship, he did.

However, it flared up again the next semester when the student, despite requests to not be in Bradley’s class, was once again his student, since she needed the class to graduate.

Toward the end of the semester, Bradley’s wife sent some of his text messages with the student to the young woman’s husband. The student was hospitalized because of a nervous breakdown. She reported Bradley’s behavior after she graduated.

The third student with whom the report says he had a relationship was an undergraduate student on the Dean’s Council. She also worked on research with him. They attended a conference together, during which he reportedly boasted about being alone with her for four days.

Bradley moved out of the house he was living in with his wife and when she drove over to his rental property, she found Bradley drinking with the undergraduate student and witnessed the two kissing.

After this, she filed for a divorce.

Finally, the report cited Bradley’s “almost inseparable” relationship with a male student, which started while he was an undergraduate and continued during his graduate studies. The report pointed out the student’s father died when he was young and cited several individuals as saying Bradley was like a father figure to him.

After the student broke up with his girlfriend in 2010, Bradley pursued a relationship with her against advice from other faculty members. 

“During the entirety of his employment with Texas Tech University, Sam Bradley’s relationships with his students have remarked comment from and created concern for other faculty and students,” the report said. “All faculty and students interviewed had concerns that the relationships were too close or familiar and were not professional.”

At several points during his seven years at Texas Tech, Bradley was confronted about these relations, each time prompting him to either deny any inappropriate behavior or claim the student in question started the relationship.

However, these are not the only reasons Bradley was fired from Texas Tech. He was also cited for engaging in unprofessional behavior on several occasions, including speaking poorly of other faculty members, participating in gossip and drinking with students and at conferences for work.

When USF hired Bradley, the university had no knowledge of these events at Texas Tech, even though it ran a criminal background check, according to USF media and public affairs manager Adam Freeman.

Bradley is now on paid administrative leave while under investigation by the university. 

The email sent out to the mass communications students Friday was a result of a meeting held by the faculty in the Zimmerman School. Associate Director Wayne Garcia said in an email to the Oracle that the meeting was held to discuss student concerns.

“The Dean wants the review to move as quickly as possible,” the email said. “However, everyone involved in the process has rights that must be respected as the review is undertaken. When the fact-finding is complete, the Dean will determine the course of action that is best for all stakeholders involved and that is consistent with USF Regulations and Policies.”

Garcia also said the investigation doesn’t change the primary focus and mission of the Zimmerman school, which is the students. 

“We have an unwavering commitment to you and to continuing to make our classes the best possible in advertising, broadcast, news, magazine and public relations,” the email said. “We do not believe that this current investigation will impact your education and your ability to find a job in your field. We will redouble our efforts to make sure that remains true.”