Source says more to Sloan’s sudden resignation as dean of COFAMC
Published: Thursday, March 8, 2012
Updated: Thursday, March 8, 2012 17:03
New light has been shed on the sudden resignation of the dean of the College of Fine Arts and Mass Communication.
A source close to the resignation who wished to remain anonymous says there may have been additional factors beyond the reason given that informed Roberta Sloan's, Ph.D., decision to resign.
The source said Sloan was told her six-month review would be negative and would be made official if she remained in her position as dean. Sloan put in her resignation soon after that citing health reasons.
Jaimie Hebert, Ph.D., provost and vice president for academic affairs, said that Sloan's resignation was her decision when the announcement was made on Feb. 15.
"Sam Houston State University announced today that Dr. Roberta Sloan…is stepping down from her position due to health issues," Hebert said. "[Sloan] will continue to serve as Senior Special Assistant to the Provost."
Hebert said Sloan's six-month evaluation was never conducted due to the fact the former dean brought up health concerns prior to the evaluation ever being conducted.
Sloan, in an email, reiterated her reason for resigning.
"While my personal health is a private matter, I can confirm that I do have health issues and am, quite frankly, the person with the most reliable information about this topic," Sloan said. "Speculative comments aside, I would request privacy as it related to my own personal medical condition."
Not everyone in the university felt that Sloan did all she could to be inclusive when she made some of her decisions.
Chris White, Ph.D., a professor in the mass communication department, said that he felt Sloan left him out of key decisions despite his experience and knowledge of how the department works.
"It puzzled me," White said. "She's made some decisions that myself and this department should have been a part of. I know more about how this program works than probably anyone on campus and it puzzles me that she didn't ask me for input."
White stepped down as interim chair in 2011 to make way for a newly hired chair. It was not his first time as chair of the department.
Complaints against Sloan aren't just unique to SHSU. A lawsuit was filed by current Temple University professor Donna Snow against Sloan and the university in April 2010 for "religious and disability discrimination, retaliation and defamation."
That lawsuit was settled out of court in August.
No sources at SHSU told the Houstonian they felt any type of discrimination by Sloan mentioned in the lawsuit; although, some faculty members did say the Dean Search Committee failed to adequately look into her past.
One tenured faculty member, who chose to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, said Sloan's resume should have thrown up red flags.
"When I read her resume, I could think of a lot of questions that needed to be asked," the faculty member said. "For example, just look at the amount of time she stayed at each university. Sometimes it's not a bad thing, but it still should have signaled the search committee to look further."
Sloan worked at Temple University in Pennsylvania from 2006 until she was hired by SHSU in 2011.
Prior to that, Sloan worked at the University of Central Florida for three years (2004 – 2006); the University of Central Oklahoma for four years (2001-2004); taught two semester-at-sea programs; Marymount University for one year (1986-1987); Huntingdon College (1985-1986); and University of Oklahoma for four years (1972 – 1975).
"It sickens me that more questions weren't brought up about that," the faculty member said. "It's weird to me that she just jumped from one place to another every two or three year."
Sloan has served as a chair of the theatre department since 2001 over three universities. Prior to that, she had a total of seven years of university academic experience as an associate professor, assistant professor and visiting associate professor.
Also in her email, Sloan acknowledged her own accomplishments during her tenure at the university.
"I am separately aware that [Hebert] recently referred to me as a "visionary" in his February meeting with the College of Fine Arts and Mass Communication Advisory Board," Sloan said. "[He also] indicated that the college was going to be implementing many of the projects that I had initiated during my brief tenure."
"I'm personally saddened that I will not be the one to continue those projects, but was pleased by Hebert's acknowledgement of my contributions," she said.
Mitchell Muehsam, Ph.D., dean of the College of Business Administration, also said Sloan contributed much to the university while she was here. He was the chair of the dean search committee that selected Sloan.
He said all the background checking came from the candidates' applications and interviews with the references listed.
"You can only hope that the interviews throw up red flags," he said. "We had two people sitting in on every call to make sure that we had an objective process and to try and read between the lines."
Muehsam said that the problem is that references tend to speak more about the good than the bad of the candidate.
He said at the time of the search, Sloan was the most impressive and well received candidate by faculty on campus.
"When the candidates come here, the faculty gets to vet them," Muehsam said. "In this case it did not work out. However, it's healthy to look back at how we can adjust our procedures."