FAU cites desire to improve media as reason for firing longtime adviser

FLORIDA -- Citing the desire to "improve and upgrade student media," Florida Atlantic University fired its longtime newspaper adviser, Michael Koretzky, last week.

The university said that as a part-time adviser, Koretzky could not benefit the newspaper as much as a full-time adviser could, Koretzky said. According to a statement released by the university, the opening for full-time adviser is expected to be posted to the FAU Human Resources website on June 4; until then, student media director Marti Harvey will stand in as adviser.

Koretzky, who had been working as the adviser for the University Press for nearly 12 years, was given three days notice about his firing.

"I expected to be fired at some point, based on the way Student Affairs was behaving," Koretzky said. "But I didn't expect to get only three days notice, and I certainly didn't expect to be fired and not replaced for an indeterminate amount of time."

Although FAU officials do not comment on personnel issues, Associate Dean of Students Terry Mena issued a statement that deemed the change necessary because student media has "outgrown its current staffing structure."

"To enhance communication and learning opportunities for students that participate in the three student media outlets at FAU, this full-time position is essential to improve and grow the student media outlets and their reach to both on- and off-campus students, as well as to assist in continuing the development of FAU into a more traditional university," the statement read.

Koretzky said he has no problem with a legitimate attempt to improve the quality of student media on campus.

"If they want to move in another direction, that's fine, although I didn't know I wasn't moving the direction upward," he said. "My beef is not with them wanting to improve student media, even if that means I'm not a part of the improvement. My beef is that I don't believe them."

The qualifications for the new full time adviser as set out by the university require the adviser have advanced technical training, a background in journalism, experience working with student media at the university level and a college degree.

"I believe a university should be able to require these things, but it's curious to me that suddenly there are these requirements I don't meet," said Koretzky, who doesn't have his bachelor's degree. "I can't figure out why it's better now to have no adviser than a part time one with no bachelor's degree and 20 years of experience in the business."

Koretzky has reported for multiple newspapers, served in an editorial capacity at various magazines and online publications, and is active in the Society of Professional Journalists.

At a meeting last Friday where more than 60 people gathered, including alumni, students from the three campus media outlets, as well as former staff members going back close to a decade, Koretzky announced his intentions to stay on as a volunteer adviser to the paper.

"I have over the years come to really love this job," Koretzky said. "I don't feel like the daily journalism I came out of is any more noble than what I've been doing at the university. So yes, I am willing to be a volunteer adviser. All I want is to be allowed to do my job."

However, Koretzky is unsure if the office of student affairs will be receptive to his volunteer position.

Karla Bowsher, editor-in-chief of the University Press, said she has known a lot of advisers and journalism professors throughout her time at FAU, but none like Koretzky -- which is why she asked him to stay on and help the staff in a volunteer capacity.

"I've never known anyone to be as self-sacrificing for students just for the sake of doing it because he cares that much," Bowsher said. "And what's great about him is that he knows what he's talking about because he's been in the field for 15, 20 years. The administration won't find anyone with nearly the experience he has."

Although the University Press never encountered censorship, in Koretzky's opinion, the student affairs department has two major issues with the newspaper's coverage: it wants to see a more traditional paper, with the three stories on the front and reports on every student meeting; and it feels that the paper is irreverent partially because of its strong online focus.

Koretzky has continued to advise the newspaper staff this week as they work on the summer issue, which comes out every other week. Bowsher said the staff has no plans to change its production schedule.

"Removing Koretzky is an indirect way of changing the University Press," Bowsher said. "The administration has never been a fan of UP or how it's been run, even though it routinely gets its staff members jobs in the field after they graduate."

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