Zimmerman director fired, search begins

Former director of the Zimmerman School of Advertising and Mass Communications Samuel Bradley posed with students during ZDay when sponsor Jordon Zimmerman came to visit the school. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE

In light of Samuel Bradley’s recent dismissal from the directorial position in the Zimmerman School of Advertising and Mass Communications, the school is starting the search for a replacement.

A hiring committee, chaired by USF psychology professor Michael Brannick, has already been formed. The application is not currently available, although Brannick anticipates starting to advertise the position between the end of July and beginning of August.

“I hope we attract someone who has lots of experience in … media and gets the necessity for change and innovation,” Associate Director Wayne Garcia said. “Someone who’s excited about that and is willing to come in to do a tough job in a tough field.”

After the Tampa Tribune brought to light an investigation into Bradley’s conduct at his previous job at Texas Tech University — it found he’d engaged in a sexual relationship with three female students and a “very close personal relationship” with a male student — he was placed on administrative leave by USF.

Bradley’s ultimate dismissal  from the university came after an investigation by Tampa-based attorney Thomas Gonzalez who determined both that USF officials had failed to follow proper procedure in Bradley’s 2013 hiring and that he provided false information to the committee. 

The team that hired Bradley did not verify his employment status, ask for personnel records, conduct a background check or advertise the position.

Despite the investigation into his hiring, there has not been an investigation into Bradley’s conduct while at USF, according to the university.

Gonzalez’s report, which was released Thursday June 30, states that Bradley applied for an associate professor of advertising position in 2012 but the search committee found he did not meet its criteria.

The report said Bradley was described as having an “adequate presence in the classroom” and an “insufficient ability to teach media planning, (which is) a pressing need to the advertising sequence.”

However, when the director of the Zimmerman Advertising Program (ZAP) resigned a short time later, some members of the same committee recommended Bradley for the position. As such, he was hired as a “visiting associate professor and ZAP interim director.”

According to the report, the position was to commence on Aug. 7, 2013 and end on Aug. 6, 2014. However, there was never a sign that he would only stay for the year.

During his two and a half years at USF, Bradley unanimously earned tenure — which increased his annual salary from $74,900 to $145,385.

While there was no justification for the failure to check Bradley’s references, the report said it is uncertain how much of Bradley’s past at Texas Tech would have been discovered.

Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Eric Eisenberg, who was unavailable due to travel, told the Tampa Bay Times last week that no disciplinary action or review of the hiring committee is scheduled.

Bradley’s dismissal is based on the fact that the position of ZAP director was never advertised and that no one else was ever considered for the position. 

Bradley also gave false information, including that he’d decided to leave Texas Tech in the wake of a messy divorce, according to Gonzalez’s report.

However, Bradley responded in an email to his notice of intent to terminate for just cause that he did disclose all relevant points to the best of his knowledge. He also stated that he had no knowledge of the Texas Tech report.

He responded, saying Gonzalez’s report contained “many key factual errors and omissions” and that he was not given sufficient time to prepare for his interview with Gonzalez.

Bradley also said he believes he should not be terminated from his position as a professor and made clear his intention to go through the United Faculty of Florida (UFF) to “resolve this disagreement.”

“I did not hide that there was an investigation,” Bradley said Friday in an interview with Bay News 9. “I did not hide that I was on leave when I was there. People were actually just not very interested in following up on those questions.” 

Bradley could not be reached by the Oracle for additional comment, and Gonzalez declined to comment.

In Bradley’s notice of termination for just cause, Eisenberg stated that his response was carefully reviewed but the administration maintained the belief that there was just cause to terminate and will move forward with the action effective immediately.

Bradley does have the option to issue a grievance on the action through the UFF and chose not to go through the Peer Advisory Committee. However, he cannot issue a grievance concerning his removal from the director position.

As such, the committee of seven professors and one student has been organized to search for a replacement. 

Some of the requirements for applicants include a Ph.D. in mass communications or another communications-related field, professional and teaching experience in the field, and a commitment to diversity.

According to an email from Garcia to mass communication students, one of the first priorities of the new director will be reviewing the school’s accreditation situation and determining “whether it in is everyone’s best interest to seek re-accreditation.”

He also said that the school is looking at combining the public relations major with the advertising major, and merging the newspaper editorial, magazine journalism and telecommunications concentrations into a single digital media curriculum, as well as developing a master’s and Ph.D. program. 

The new majors are expected to start in fall of 2017, contingent upon the proper approvals. However, current students in each concentration will be able to complete their current courses of study, rather than having to be reclassified into the new majors.

“All of (those) have been going on for, in some cases, several years and are just coming to fruition,” Garcia said. “There aren’t any changes because of the director change.”

While the search is ongoing, associate professor Art Ramirez — who is also a member of the hiring committee — will continue as interim director. Garcia expects the new director to start at some point during the spring of 2017.

“Obviously, when you’re on the front pages with something very, very negative, that’s not where you want to be,” Garcia said. “But it really has not had an impact on the instruction at the class level.”