Broadcasting co-coordinator steps down

Victoria LaPoe, School of Journalism & Broadcasting professor.

Monica Kast

A professor in the School of Journalism and Broadcasting has stepped down as co-coordinator after discussions involving diversity in the school.

Victoria LaPoe, assistant professor in the School of Journalism and Broadcasting, has stepped down as coordinator of broadcasting and film. Brad Pfranger and Travis Newton will remain as the coordinators. This change occurred after emails were exchanged between the SJ&B faculty about adding a diversity course to the school.

Loup Langton, director of the SJ&B, received an email from professors requesting the discussion about the diversity course include the entire faculty. In reply, Langton sent an email to all SJ&B faculty Thursday, Aug. 25 saying, “ … this should be a school-wide discussion, so please make sure that all responses, ideas, opinions get sent to all faculty.”

Later that day, in two separate emails, LaPoe announced her intention to step down from the Advisory Council, a diversity committee within Potter College of Arts and Letters and step down as co-coordinator of broadcasting and film.

“I do apologize if I was direct yesterday, as one of the two minority faculty member[s], I have some deep and personal feelings about this,” LaPoe wrote in her first email.

Later in the same email, she added that she felt she was being “completely alienated,” and asked to step off of the Advisory Council put together by Potter College dean Larry Snyder.

In her second email, LaPoe announced she was stepping down as broadcasting and film overall sequence coordinator “in light of transparency.” She also requested she no longer teach SJ&B 103, Digital Storytelling for the 21st Century.

“In light of this discussion and lack of understanding in this area, it is not something I am willing to take on,” LaPoe wrote of teaching SJ&B 103. “I do enough service, research and have good [evaluations] so I assume this will not be an issue. Sorry it had to end this way with the progress, but it is clear to me now.”

Langton said LaPoe’s decision to step down had been previously discussed between the two, and was part of “ongoing conversations about establishing priorities and managing time.”

“I think that the time demanded of her in her role as coordinator became untenable given her commitments to teaching, research, committee work, etc.,” Langton wrote in an email. “She is a human dynamo, but we all have our limits.”

Langton also said he believes diversity will remain a priority for LaPoe.

“Right now, I think that the implementation and nurturing of diversity is Victoria’s top priority in her professional world whether it’s in the classroom, the school, college, university or national level or through her research,” Langton said in an email. “She is, in my opinion, one of the most qualified people on campus to address this critically important issue.”

Although LaPoe originally announced intentions to step off of the Potter College Advisory Council, LaPoe now has intentions to remain on the committee. According to LaPoe, she stepped down as co-coordinator at the same time she accepted this position on the Advisory Council. LaPoe said in an email she will be working on this committee to “research, examine and understand how to foster a continued diverse and inclusive culture within the [Potter] College.”

Snyder said he began putting together the Advisory Council, alternatively known as what he called the “Potter College Diversity Task Force,” in the spring as one of his first projects as dean.

Snyder said LaPoe was one of the first people he talked to about forming the council last semester.

“She was the person that immediately came to mind,” Snyder said. “She had professional expertise in that area.”

Snyder said the Advisory Council currently has both short and long-term goals to look at improving diversity within Potter College. He cited recruitment and retention of minority students and faculty, as well as developing curriculum incorporating “the most pressing issues” relating to diversity, as two of the main goals.

LaPoe said she decided to step down as co-coordinator in order to focus on “diversity efforts” and research. She said she met with her mentors over the summer, and they suggested she begin to focus more on her research.

“I am one of the few American Indian media scholars in the country,” LaPoe said in an email. “My research takes a considerable amount of time.”

However, LaPoe said she does not view stepping down as a co-coordinator as “stepping away.”

“I don’t really look at my stepping down at broadcasting as stepping away from anything, it is more stepping toward my area of research and my focus on diversity,” LaPoe said in an email. “Diversity is my passion, why I pursued my Ph.D., and what I attempt to foster everyday as part of my personal and professional life as a multicultural mother, wife, and professor.”

Reporter Monica Kast can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @monicakastwku.