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USF Director On Leave: Questions About Relationships At Previous Job

Mar 25, 2016

UPDATED 3/25 at 6 P.M. with statement from Zimmerman School.

The director of the University of South Florida Zimmerman School of Advertising and Mass Communications has been placed on leave after questions were raised about relationships he had with students at his former university. 

Samuel Bradley, 42, was placed on administrative leave by USF Wednesday, a day after The Tampa Tribune asked the school about an 87-page report from Texas Tech University that alleged he had sexual relationships with three students there and an inappropriately close relationship with a fourth.

Bradley had been chair of the department of advertising at the Lubbock university from January 2011 to August 2012. He was placed on leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

He was hired as a non-tenured visiting associate professor by USF in 2013 and was named school director last year.

A statement from Eric Eisenberg, Dean of the USF College of Arts and Sciences, did not name Bradley, and said that the school just learned of information about "the employee" this week.

Eisenberg said neither the employee, nor his previous employer disclosed information about the investigation during USF's hiring process. USF will review what they've learned before deciding what to do about Bradley, he said.

The Tribune also reported that Art Ramirez has been named acting director of the Zimmerman School. The school's current graduate director is the seventh leader of the school in five years.

The Tribune quoted USF spokeswoman Lara Wade as saying a criminal background check was conducted before Bradley was hired. 

“USF followed the routine practice for a professor who was granted tenure at a peer institution to be recommended for tenure by their new employer,” Wade said. “When considering the decision to grant Bradley tenure, USF took the additional step of gathering documents and references from the previous tenure-awarding institution.”

The Zimmerman School of Advertising and Mass Communications sent an email to students Friday afternoon, saying that while Eisenberg wants the review to be done as quickly as possible, "everyone involved in the process has rights that must be respected as the review is undertaken. When the fact-finding is complete, the Dean will determine the course of action that is best for all stakeholders involved and that is consistent with USF Regulations and Policies."

The note added:

We have an unwavering commitment to you and to continuing to make our classes the best possible in advertising, broadcast, news, magazine, and public relations. We do not believe that this current investigation will impact your education and your ability to find a job in your field. We will redouble our efforts to make sure that remains true.