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April 15, 1994 - Image 3

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The Michigan Daily, 1994-04-15

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The Michigan Daily - Friday, April 15, 1994 - 3





Piled high with boxes and littered
with old memos and newspaper ar-
ticles, Neil Malamuth's office at 2020
Freize is quiet at last.
Malamuth, dressed in a polo shirt
and khaki pants, seems prepared for
the long job ahead of him - not as
chair of the University's Communi-
cation department, but as a weary
moving man.
"It's not the easiest of situations,"
*Malamuth said, referring to the sur-
prised and sometimes irate looks from
his colleagues when he returned to his
former office Wednesday. "I'm not
going to get into (office) politics. I
was friendly to everyone."
The silent reception Malamuth
received was to be expected. After
two turbulent years of rumor and in-
nuendo, everyone who works on the
second floor of the Freize building
*wants life to return to normal. The
overall mood is grim.
This does not seem like a depart-
ment that is supposed to study meth-
ods of communication.
Stories of sexual deviancy, impro-
priety and general
*stormy term as
chair of the
University's s
eighth largest de-
partment. His re-
turn this week has
not improved the
situation, but Malamuth
Malamuth has to move on.
He leaves behind a faculty of dis-
gruntled professors and lecturers, ten-
0 ured and nontenured staff that won-
der where they are now that he has left
the department and its future behind.
Malamuth has responsibilities
elsewhere. He will return to his job as
chair of the Communication Studies
Program and
Speech Depart-
ment at the Uni-
versity of Califor-
*nia at Los Ange-
les (UCLA), a po-
sition he had held
since 1984. He
took an extended
leave from
UCLA to head the Goldenberg
University's De-
partment of Communication.
"I saw the opportunity here to help
transform a much larger department
*into an excellent department, but I
think there were several factors to
prevent that," Malamuth said. "My
mission was change and change is
never easy."
The story begins in February 1991
when LSA Dean Edie Goldenberg
and then-chair Prof. Frank Beaver
sent a letter to Malamuth, extending
an invitation to join the department as
*it leader.
This offer came after what
Goldenberg calls an "intensive effort"
by an internal committee to recruit a
new chair. The faculty committee unani-
mously recommended Malamuth.
"The overwhelming sentiment
from the letters I received from the
Department of Communication was

that they wanted very much for the
college to go outside and conduct a
national search for a chair,"
Goldenberg said.
"There was a general feeling of
the department that there wasn't any-
one currently on the faculty who would
inspire the kind of consensus and con-
fidence that they were hoping for."
The department was desperately
in need of confidence. In 1979, the
Speech and Communication and Jour-
*nalism departments merged to form
the current unit. Its focus at this point
moved away from professional train-
ing toward a scholarly approach about
the media and its effect on society.
Because communication is not an
easily defined term in academia, the
denartment snlintered intn manv di-

packs up to head home to UCLA

fate uncertain

The fourth-floor laboratory, built to recruit Neil Malamuth to the University, shows the signs of internal stress.
Orion created controversy as TA

When UCLA communication
chair Neil Malamuth was appointed
to head the University's communica-
tion department in September 1991,
he brought more personal items than
just a few photos for his desk.
His live-in girlfriend Shira Orion
was admitted to the University's Law
school and started in the Fall term of
1991. She was also given a teaching
assistant position in the communica-
tion department, headed by Malamuth.
Some members of the department
have speculated that Orion was ad-
mitted to the Law school only be-
cause Malamuth was named commu-
nication chair.
Malamuth denies such charges.
"She wasn't given a deal. She was
admitted to several prestigious law
schools," he said.
Orion had a 3.85 GPA at the Uni-
versity of California at Los Angeles,
where she studied communication as
an undergraduate.
According to the Law School
Records Office, Orion attended the
University four terms - Fall 1991,
Winter and Fall 1992, and Fall 1993.
She did not complete her degree.
Some members of the department
have said Orion's appointment as a
TA was even more controversial.
Normally the fellowship commit-
tee of the communication department
prepares a list of qualified applicants
from which professors chose their
However, Communication Prof.
Marion Marzolf, who chaired the fel-
lowship committee at the time, said
that was not the case for Orion. She
said LSA Dean Edie Goldenberg ap-
pointed Orion to the position without
consulting the committee.

"We were told the dean had just
given a teaching assistantship for one
of our classes to Professor Malamuth's
friend who was coming with him,"
Marzolf said.
"I objected because she was not
one of our students. We hadn't seen
her materials. We didn't know any-
thing about her, and that was taking a
teaching assistantship away from one
of our students," she added.
In a letter to The Michigan Daily,
Goldenberg wrote, "Ms. Orion was
qualified for admission to the Law
school and well-qualified for her TA
Marzolf complained, "We were in
a position of having to ask
(Goldenberg) to change her mind. I
asked Malamuth. I thought it would
be graceful of him
to withdraw this,
request or ask that
it be a teaching
assistantship that
the dean funded
from some other p
M a l a m u t h<
said he was not in-
volved with the "
appointment. Marzolf
"I totally stayed out of the pro-
cess," he said.
Marzolf and others also question
why Orion, a law student, was given
a TA position even though standard
practice was to first employ all the
qualified students from within the
communication department.
Goldenberg said, "When we re-
cruit people we try to be helpful in
placing their partners or significant
others just as other universities do. I
don't think there was anything inap-
propriate about this."
Orion worked as a TA for each of

her four terms at the University for
Joan Lowenstein, a lecturer for Com-
munication 202.
Lowenstein said she almost al-
ways has a Law student as a TA, so
that was not the issue for her, but that
Orion did not work as hard as other
Lowenstein added, "I turned down
other Law students who were more
qualified ... to make room for her."
"Essentially it was her boyfriend
who determined whether I continued
to be employed or not," Lowenstein
said. "It made everybody uncomfort-
Goldenberg said concern about
Orion was unwarranted.
"There was never a single com-
plaint from a student or Joan
Lowenstein anywhere - and it's not
just a matter of saying she couldn't
complain in the department because
there was a separate committee,"
Goldenberg said.
She added, "There were lots of
places people might have complained
if they were unhappy and that's a big
if because there hasn't been the slight-
est shred of evidence that anybody
was unhappy about anything."
Lowenstein disagreed, "It's just
untrue that I didn't complain."
Lowenstein said she went to asso-
ciate chair Vincent Price to request an
additional TA to do the work Orion
was neglecting.
"I did complain and you can look
at the records and see that I started
having two TAs after if was clear that
(Orion) wasn't doing the job, so the
dean's just wrong about that,
Lowenstein said.
Orion separated from Malamuth
last year and returned to UCLA to
complete her degree. The Daily was
unable to locate Orion for comment.

The recent controversy in the De-
partment of Communication has left
students and faculty disturbed and
concerned for the future of the depart-
"It's crazy," said Lisa Drayton, a
Communication sophomore. "All of
this is unfair to teachers and students,
especially the students who are al-
ready concentrating in the depart-
In the last few years, the depart-
ment has suffered from an identity
crisis, according to LSA Dean Edie
Goldenberg, with its direction uncer-
tain and leadership undefined.
"We have to
sort out whatF
makes sense for
Michigan and
clearly sort it out,Y
and then we'll be n
able to move for-
w a r d
Goldenberg said
Goldenberg is
to advise her and Huesman
committee on the department's future
mission, structure, governance andcur-
"We can't really say what's going
to happen until I recieve recommen-
dations from the advisory commit-
tee," Goldenberg said. "It's going to
take at least until the full Fall term. It
may go into the Winter."
Students are uncertain about their
future in commu-
nication. "I'mj
concerned the de-{
partment isn't liv-
ing up to the Uni-
versity of
Michigan's s
name," said jun-
ior Steve Otwell.
"It's made me
take a step back
and think, 'Is this Chamberlain
really what I want to do?"'
While Goldenberg has taken bold
steps toward restructing the depart-
ment, students have their own opin-
ions about how the administration
should make these changes.
Otwell said, "They should be con-
cerned about what's good for the stu-
dents, not who has the most power."
Some students and faculty are un-
happy about the efforts already taken
to change the department.
"If its weak they should restruc-
ture it, but it should be done in a less
dictatorial way with more coopera-
tion with the faculty," said Kristin
Olson, a Communication/Spanish
Some are saying the department
will move toward the quanitiative
method and away from the qualita-
tive. Students will be geared more
towards research than practical skills.
"I feel sorry for students," said
Associate Prof. Jimmie Reeves. "The
kind education they're talking about
is not focused, but narrow."
However, current Communication
chair, L. Rowell Huesmann, dis-
agreed, saying the department is not
going to move to research alone.
"For a department to do adequate
justice to teaching the undergraduates
at the University, it has to be a depart-
ment that is high in quality like most
other departments in the University,
integrating both teaching and schol-

arship," Huesmann said.
The small number of tenured pro-
fessors within the department has also
raised some questions as to the focus
the department will take.
"We have been concerned that
there were not enough tenure-tracked
faculty for leadership in the depart-

Dean to name
committee to
plan ftuture
Have any advice on how to
improve the Department of Com-
munication? Beginning this fall,
students, faculty and alumni from
the department will be able to voice
their opinions to an advisory com-
mittee responsible for the
department's fate.
LSA Dean Edie Goldenberg
proposed the departmental review,
which suffers from a hiring freeze,
low morale and a lack of what she
calls a "clear vision."
"I'm asking for the advisory
committee to advise me and the
executive committee of the col-
lege on a number of things - the
future of the department, its struc-
ture, its governance and on its cur-
riculum," Goldenberg said.
The committee will be headed
by John Chamberlin, associate
dean for academic appointments,
who will serve as the department's
interim chair beginning July1.
Goldenberg will select five or six
other faculty as well, three from
outside the department and two or
three from within.
Although Goldenberg said
committee members outside of the
department will be tenured, she
would consider nontenured mem-
bers of the Communication de-
partment for positions.
Chamberlin said he hopes to
have weekly meetings in the fall,
when the committee is assembled,
and have a report ready for the
dean by the end of the semester.
"We have to start to assess the
strengths and weaknesses of what
we now have, and plan for the
future," Chamberlin said. "There's
no expected outcome for this re-
view. ... I don't think anybody
goes into this thinking it's an easy
ment," said John Chamberlin, associ-
ate dean for acedemic affairs, who
will be interim chair of the depart-
ment and head of its advisory com-
Huesmann said having fewer ten-
ured professors could make decisions
in the department easier to imple-
"In some ways, it makes it easier
to make a considered pedigogical
judgement about the directions for
the future when one has fewer con-
flicting immediate demands," he said.
Recently, two professors have
been turned down for tenure, saying
they were victims of the
administration's agenda.
"(They're) eliminating people who
don't fit their model," Reeves said.
Richard Campbell, assistant Com-
munication professor, was denied
twice for tenure in the past two years.
"I just wanted a space to do what
I do. I saw that space shrinking for a
while and now they've taken it away,"
he said. Campbell noted that a news
critic has never been tenured at the
Goldenberg denied the assertion

that the administration was in the pro-
cess of limiting the focus of the de-
"I reject the noton that says re-
search versus teaching. We are an
educational institution that is also an
outstanding research institution,"
Goldenberg said.


studying men's responses to pornog-
raphy with penile cuffs that measure
male arousal rate.
It is this research, which was com-
pleted more than 14 years ago, that
brought Malamuth the most scorn. To
recruit him, the University promised
to build Malamuth a laboratory where
he could continue his work. The cost
totalled $57,000.
"He used it for a while to store his
personal furniture. It had nothing to
do with a lab," said Jonathan Friendly,
adjunct professor and director of the
master's program for journalism.
Malamuth admits he did not use
the lab, but had every intention of
doing so. Along with the lab space,
the University gave Malamuth a base
salary of $72,000 plus adjustment in
the next two years of his five-year

members of the department.
Recruitment was a major part of
Malamuth's aspirations as chair. "It
was my goal to bring the department
greater scholarship," he said. "I put
more emphasis on scholarly than the ...
practical aspects of communication. But
not to the exclusion of either."
Yet this attempt at finding more
tenure-track faculty was put on hold
until the deparment's mission could
be clarified. After the faculty dis-
missed Malamuth's statement en-
tirely, Malamuth asked several fac-
ulty members to write a second draft.
Before they were finished,
Malamuth had begun his sabbatical,
which ran from September, 1993 to
April, 1994. He tendered his resigna-

tion in January, a move that came as a
surprise to everyone.
"It was a compromise document
that wasn't pleasing to many people,"
Goldenberg said. "It became clear that
looking into the situation further that a
department consensus had not been
achieved when he decided to resign."
This spring semester, Malamuth
was supposed to finish his leave time
and return to teaching. His course,
"Pornography: What does sex have to
do with it," has been cancelled.
" There was general cooperation
in many respects although there were
some people who resisted change,"
Malamuth said. "If I had wanted to
maintain the status quo, I could have
been a popular chair."

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