The termination of a popular faculty member in Kent State University's School of Journalism and Mass Communication is raising some eyebrows in academia.
Students and staff are questioning the decision of university administrators to not renew the contract for lecturer Gene Sasso, who came to Kent in 2010 to help establish a new online public relations master's degree program — a program that's become quite successful since.
Sasso was told last month unexpectedly that his contract would not be renewed, Inside Higher Ed reported.
"There was no reason given or offered," Sasso told TV2, the communication school's student broadcasting arm.
Sasso was listed by Kent State's College of Communication and Information on its "points of pride" for the 2011-2012 academic year for being quoted by the Bulldog Reporter in "2012 Online Graduate Programs for Communicators." The outlet is considered a top-tier producer of professional development webinars for corporate communications firms.
Bill Sledzik, an associate professor in public relations at Kent State, wrote on his personal blog, ToughSledding, about the "brilliance" of Sasso's efforts coordinating Kent's public relations program.
"In his short time at Kent State, Gene has met every objective set for him," Sledzik wrote. "His bottom line: a program with 260-plus students, $6 million in revenue, and a student retention rate of 90 percent plus. It’s a track record that, in the 'real world,' earns you a huge bonus."
University administrators have declined to comment publicly on Sasso's termination.
Kent State spokesperson Eric Mansfield told Inside Higher Ed that the university does not comment on personnel matters.