Kansas State Univ. publication board reinstates newspaper adviser

KANSAS — The Board of Student Publications at Kansas State changed its mind in February on their vote to vacate Director of Student Publications Ron Johnson’s position.

On Feb. 4, the board of voted to declare the position of director vacant. The move would have ousted Johnson as adviser of the campus newspaper, The Kansas State Collegian.

Claudette Riley, opinion editor of the Collegian, said that the board did not cite newspaper content as an issue in its Feb. 4 decision, but content has been a concern of the board in the past.

“The board did not document any reason [for Johnson’s removal],” she said.Not two weeks later, the board unanimously voted to reverse its Feb. 4 decision. The vote called for establishing a review procedure of Johnson to be completed by May 1.

The motion said the evaluation will use input from students, faculty and other interested parties. Johnson’s contract will then be signed by Student Publications and the A.Q. Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communication. As a part of the passed motion, a review process will be created to be used on an annual basis.

Board member Carlton Getz said that the review will be a general evaluation that will look at his performance with the Collegian, interaction with student groups and, possibly, management aspects.

“He’s a great adviser,” he said in a Collegian article. “He works really well with the Collegian. Beyond that, it’s really determinant on what the evaluation comes up with.”

Board member and Collegian representative Kevin Klassen said that with a favorable evaluation, there is no reason why Johnson’s contract will not be renewed.

Klassen also said the initial vote to vacate the position stemmed directly from Johnson’s comments at a student activities committee meeting in the fall. Some members were offended by his remarks after an error caused a $120,000 loss to the student media corporation.

Getz said before the Feb. 4 meeting that firing Johnson might help the corporation when its student fees came up for review in student government in late February.

The Feb. 4 vote caused an outcry from alumni of the school and organizations such as College Media Advisers. CMA President Mark Witherspoon said that the board was “punishing an adviser for being the best in the business.”

Witherspoon also said that many board members and Kansas State officials had turned off their e-mail accounts because of the overwhelming response to Johnson’s removal.

Todd Simon, board chairman and director of A.Q. Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communication, said the overwhelming response helped in the board’s reconsideration.

“Members of the board who had voted for the Feb. 4 motion have spoken how news of Ron’s reputation meant a lot in their thinking on this,” he said.