Director steps down due to supervisor’s ‘abuse’ and ‘incompetence’


The coordinator of a graduate studies program at Northern Kentucky University has resigned citing “abuse, insensitivity, and incompetence” and the “radical differences” — according to emails — in educational standards of his supervisor, a claim the supervisor has yet to deny.

Communication professor Jimmie Manning recently resigned from his position as communication graduate program director because “the vision and direction I and the Graduate Council have for the graduate program are not reciprocated by our current chair,” according to his resignation speech.

The current chair, Rachel Lyon, was appointed before the fall 2011 semester.

Lyon, when approached for comment multiple times via email and in person, refused to comment on Manning’s resignation. She said she would only answer questions through email, which is against The Northerner’s policy.

In Manning’s resignation speech, which he read aloud at the Jan. 25 meeting with the department of communication coordinators and executive team, he said there are “radical differences in what constitutes a quality graduate education and especially the direction our program should go.”

According to Manning, his speech wasn’t meant to “begrudge” Lyon, but instead was honest. He said the two of them were not a good fit, and they couldn’t quite get on the same course.

College of Informatics Dean Kevin Kirby said “each individual chair or department decides on how program directors will interact with the chair … the dean’s office does not play a role in this.” Kirby would give no further information on Manning’s resignation.

According to Manning, his way of interacting with Lyon was not where Lyon wanted it. In his speech, he recalled a specific time when Lyon was “quite upset” that Manning did not respond to an email within 24 working hours and “reminded me that I received a two course release so that I could answer her emails.”

Manning teaches four communication courses; he also helps teach two additional classes, mentors students for graduate capstone projects, advises five academic organizations, among other responsibilities.

“Clearly, I’m too busy to carry out the job as you think it should be done,” he said in his speech.

Manning also said his decision to step down from the graduate program director position was not him “cutting out on responsibility … but, rather, knowing how to pick my battles, and realizing that my comfort and happiness have to come first sometimes,” according to his speech.

In a Jan. 24 email sent to Kirby, Manning wrote, “I only hope that I am able to maintain enough distance as a faculty member that I will not be subjected to Rachel Lyon’s inappropriate behavior again. She is truly a liability to NKU.”

According to Manning, the response garnered after he gave his speech was “rebuffed,” and Lyon gave no comment in the meeting.

The Northerner requested the meeting minutes and recording from Randy Little, communication academic coordinator for the department of communication, for the Jan. 25 meeting. He respondedvia email, “Rachel Lyon wants me to tell you there is no recording.”

Manning, who will finish out the semester with his remaining duties, will take a yearlong leave to conduct research starting this summer. He said the plan for a sabbatical was already planned before his decision to step down was made, but the timing just happened to be right.

Manning is not the only professor to recently step down from a program director position in the communication department.

Communication professor Andrea Lambert South also resigned from her position as communication undergraduate program director officially on Oct. 19, 2011. In an email to Lyon, Lambert South said the position was “a time-consuming role, and the rewards of the position no longer outweigh the costs personally and professionally.” Lambert South refused to comment further on her decision to step down. The Northerner is currently seeking additional information under a pending open records request.

To take over the graduate program director position, public relations professor Greg De Blasio stepped in. De Blasio said it was a good time to take on the position because it gives him the opportunity to work at the department level, which he has not done in the past.

Although he is “busier than ever,” De Blasio said he is excited because of the response he has received from his colleagues, who have expressed thankfulness and confidence in his decision.