Tennessee State U. yearbook adviser contract not renewed

TENNESSEE — Tennessee State University’s student yearbook will go without an adviser indefinitely, after student publications adviser Pamela Foster’s contract was only renewed for the newspaper adviser position.

Foster said she met with Student Affairs Assistant Vice President Dorothy Lockridge June 19, who told her she would be renewed as the student newspaper adviser, but a different yearbook adviser would be found. Lockridge said she wanted someone new because the 2006 yearbook was late and because Foster had not filed paperwork properly, Foster said.

Foster also said she was told that as a result of the 2006 yearbook’s tardiness, she did not give yearbook students “the same teaching about the importance of professionalism in all its forms, including in meeting deadlines.”

“Having served as a copy editor and reporter for both The Meter student newspaper and Tennessean yearbook during the 2006 and 2007 school years, I am extremely saddened that Ms. Foster will not be serving as my adviser,” Tennessean Editor in Chief Marshall Latimore said in an e-mail.

Latimore said he has been in contact with Lockridge, who told him the Tennessean will be without an adviser indefinitely.

“Though she has [assured] me that she will do everything she can to help me, it is unsettling to know that I will have to rely on the [advice] of someone who, by employment, is more concerned about the affairs of the university than the sentiments of the students,” Latimore said.

Latimore said he is considering filing a complaint with the Division of Student Affairs, university President Melvin Johnson and Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor Charles Manning. Though he said he does not consider the situation an “immediate threat” to his free speech rights, Latimore said “the possibility is there.”

“Essentially, this is a situation centered around a person who has absolutely no expertise in journalism or even student media making decisions solely based on her background as an administrator,” Latimore said. “This is frightening.”

Lockridge had originally sent Foster a letter, dated May 21, 2007, that informed her the student newspaper and yearbook would be “moving in a different direction,” and her “services as student publications coordinator will not be renewed.”

Foster regained the newspaper adviser portion of the position back after several students and colleagues, including Latimore and Meter Editor in Chief Cara Anthony, e-mailed administrators expressing support for Foster and asking for her contract to be renewed.

“Ms. Foster pushed us continually to be better, to unite together, to put our journalistic integrity above all else, and to take the lessons learned in The Meter‘s newsroom — integrity, accuracy, intelligence, and spirit — into our daily lives,” Hillary Condon, who served as an editor at The Meter, said in her e-mail to school administrators.

Lockridge and Student Affairs Vice President Michael Freeman declined to comment for this story.