FLORIDA — Citing the desire to”improve and upgrade student media,” Florida Atlantic Universityfired its longtime newspaper adviser, Michael Koretzky, last week.
The university said that as a part-timeadviser, Koretzky could not benefit the newspaper as much as a full-time advisercould, Koretzky said. According to a statement released by the university, theopening for full-time adviser is expected to be posted to the FAU HumanResources website on June 4; until then, student media director Marti Harveywill stand in as adviser.
Koretzky, who had been working as theadviser for the University Press for nearly 12 years, was given threedays notice about his firing.
“I expected to be fired at some point,based on the way Student Affairs was behaving,” Koretzky said. “ButI didn’t expect to get only three days notice, and I certainlydidn’t expect to be fired and not replaced for an indeterminate amount oftime.”
Although FAU officials do not comment onpersonnel issues, Associate Dean of Students Terry Mena issued a statement thatdeemed the change necessary because student media has “outgrown itscurrent staffing structure.”
“To enhance communication and learningopportunities for students that participate in the three student media outletsat FAU, this full-time position is essential to improve and grow the studentmedia outlets and their reach to both on- and off-campus students, as well as toassist in continuing the development of FAU into a more traditionaluniversity,” the statement read.
Koretzky said he has no problem with alegitimate attempt to improve the quality of student media on campus.
“If they want to move in anotherdirection, that’s fine, although I didn’t know I wasn’t movingthe direction upward,” he said. “My beef is not with them wanting toimprove student media, even if that means I’m not a part of theimprovement. My beef is that I don’t believe them.”
The qualifications for the new full timeadviser as set out by the university require the adviser have advanced technicaltraining, a background in journalism, experience working with student media atthe university level and a college degree.
“I believe a university should be ableto require these things, but it’s curious to me that suddenly there arethese requirements I don’t meet,” said Koretzky, who doesn’thave his bachelor’s degree. “I can’t figure out why it’sbetter now to have no adviser than a part time one with no bachelor’sdegree and 20 years of experience in the business.”
Koretzky has reported for multiplenewspapers, served in an editorial capacity at various magazines and onlinepublications, and is active in the Society of Professional Journalists.
At a meeting last Friday where more than 60people gathered, including alumni, studentsfrom the three campus media outlets,as well as former staff members going back close to a decade, Koretzky announcedhis intentions to stay on as a volunteer adviser to the paper.
“I have over the years come to reallylove this job,” Koretzky said. “I don’t feel like the dailyjournalism I came out of is any more noble than what I’ve been doing atthe university. So yes, I am willing to be a volunteer adviser. All I want is tobe allowed to do my job.”
However, Koretzky is unsure if the office ofstudent affairs will be receptive to his volunteer position.
Karla Bowsher, editor-in-chief of theUniversity Press, said she has known a lot of advisers and journalismprofessors throughout her time at FAU, but none like Koretzky — which is whyshe asked him to stay on and help the staff in a volunteercapacity.
“I’ve never known anyone to beas self-sacrificing for students just for the sake of doing it because he caresthat much,” Bowsher said. “And what’s great about him is thathe knows what he’s talking about because he’s been in the field for15, 20 years. The administration won’t find anyone with nearly theexperience he has.”
Although the University Press neverencountered censorship, in Koretzky’s opinion, the student affairsdepartment has two major issues with the newspaper’s coverage: it wants tosee a more traditional paper, with the three stories on the front and reports onevery student meeting; and it feels that the paper is irreverent partiallybecause of its strong online focus.
Koretzky has continued to advise thenewspaper staff this week as they work on the summer issue, which comes outevery other week. Bowsher said the staff has no plans to change its productionschedule.
“Removing Koretzky is an indirect wayof changing the University Press,” Bowsher said. “Theadministration has never been a fan of UP or how it’s been run, eventhough it routinely gets its staff members jobs in the field after theygraduate.”