MARYLAND ‘ An award-winning student media adviser at Mount Saint Mary’s College, who faced intense pressure from administrators to censor the student newspaper, resigned three weeks before classes resumed this fall.
William Lawbaugh was associate professor of communications and adviser for the Mountain Echo and Pridwin yearbook for 15 years before announcing his early retirement effective Aug. 31. Lawbaugh cited both personal concerns and institutional pressures as the reasons behind his decision.
Provost Carol Hinds reprimanded Lawbaugh in February 2002 for, among other things, ‘constant inaccuracies in the paper.’ Hinds also withheld $3,806 of Lawbaugh’s salary. Since then, student journalists at Mount Saint Mary’s have faced attempts by administrators to enact more restrictive student press policies and even audit the newspaper’s finances.
The struggle became more personal, Lawbaugh said, when communications department chair Sarah Stokely refused to allow him to renew his real estate license. He said he was forced to suspend the license, ruining the sale of his home.
In September Lawbaugh was named the inaugural winner of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Eugene S. Pulliam First Amendment Award. College Media Advisers named Lawbaugh Distinguished Multimedia Advisor of the Year in October 1999, and he served as associate chair of CMA’s ethics committee.
In resigning, Lawbaugh said he thinks he is doing what is best for the publications at Mount Saint Mary’s.
‘Perhaps a new adviser can work better with this mean-spirited administration. I could keep the provost and the president at bay,’ Lawbaugh said, ‘but when the dean and department head piled on this spring, I knew it was just a matter of time.’