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Successful Kent Professor Terminated Unexpectedly

Contract for Gene Sasso, lecturer and faculty member in School of Journalism and Mass Communications, not renewed

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.

Rick February 27, 2013 at 11:24 AM
They get rid of him and keep the criminal typical the brainless who run the university
Randy McFarland February 27, 2013 at 02:25 PM
He must have got himself an OVI or found possessing and using illegal narcotics. Oh wait, that guy still has his job. Sure makes perfectly good sense. 'Merica!
Hope Moskal February 27, 2013 at 04:22 PM
At KSU, if someone higher up doesn't like you, they get rid of you.
Gord February 27, 2013 at 04:28 PM
@Randy McFarland might wish to retract the suggestions, or Patch consider removing. Realizing McFarland suggestion was sarcasm, some might get mistaken impression. There is no suggestion in the articles referred to or any other records of the kinds of transgressions implied by McFarland.
JustSaying February 27, 2013 at 04:52 PM
Unless you know the details regarding this or other particular situations, you may want to wait awhile before you comment that KSU did this without reason.
The Omnipotent Sponge - Soak it up! February 27, 2013 at 05:08 PM
That's everywhere, not just KSU.
Gord February 27, 2013 at 05:35 PM
The beauty of a free press is that people are able to discuss and consider facts. Unfortunately for Sasso, he was not afforded open and honest discussion by his employer. It's tragically ironic that that employer is an institution of higher learning where open, fair and honest discussion are and should be hallmarks. It's all the more tragic that Sasso is employed by the faculty of journalism and mass communication, one hopes the very home of openness and honesty, where fledgling journalists are trained and taught by example. It's clear from the reporting that Sasso has at least one colleague focused on and courageous enough to stand up for him. Bill Sledzik should be commended for his strength and courage and integrity. The school's administration should be ashamed (and called to accounts) for its lack of openness, the dishonesty and the doubt cast on Sasso. The shroud placed over the entire situation plays in favor of the school, and harms an educator who by all counts did an excellent job. That he was shown the door just short of the time when he would have been granted an explanation for a dismissal: how convenient for the school, how awful for its employee . Shame on KSU. Where is the union support for this man?
Russ Lilly February 27, 2013 at 11:44 PM
It will be interesting to see who gets the tap for his vacated position. That will give us some clues if he was backstabbed by a jealous old department warhorse,lost out in some interdepartmental warfare, etc. What not to expect: some outsider with superstar ratings.
Mick Mummy February 27, 2013 at 11:47 PM
Making everyone else look bad?

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