Gary Borders

Gage Paine, vice president of Student Affairs, announced Thursday that Jalah Goette will serve as the director of the Texas Student Media board.

The Texas Student Media board represents the various University student media outlets, including The Daily Texan, Texas Student Television, KVRX, the Texas Travesty and the Cactus Yearbook. Previously, UT was prepared to go through a national search for a new director, but after a recommendation from the Texas Student Media board, Paine decided to appoint Goette to the position.

“While this is not the methodology that we typically use to fill a director-level position, I recognize that Texas Student Media has had considerable leadership transition challenges over the last few years,” Paine said in a memorandum to the board.

Goette has served as the interim director since the spring, when Gary Borders, the former Texas Student Media board director, resigned. Borders said his resignation was forced by Juan Gonzalez, former vice president of Student Affairs, because Borders proposed the selling of KVRX and Texas Student Television.

Goette has been with Texas Student Media for six years. Previously, she was the assistant director, where she dealt with Texas Student Media business and advertising.

Printed on Friday, November 9, 2012 as: Texas Student Media board appoints interim director to permanent position 

'What we have here...'

For those of you unable to attend this morning’s TSM board meeting (and who can’t wait for tomorrow’s news story), my take on the situation is that there is agreement that there was a breakdown in communication about the performance of Gary Borders as TSM director between the University administration and the board (and not much agreement on anything else.) Gary Borders is still out as TSM director. At this time, there are no plans to sell the licenses for TSTV and KVRX. There may be future discussions about exploring the possibility of shifting responsibility for TSM from the Division of Student Affairs to the College of Communications. A search is on for an interim director, who should be selected at a special board meeting on March 7. The interim director will run things while the search is on for a new, permanent director, if such a thing exists. No word on when the search for a digital adviser might begin. Another board meeting is set for March 19, the last possible minute to set a TSM budget for the coming year. I think that’s pretty much it. Let me know if you have any questions or concerns.

Big news at TSM

Gary Borders
Gary Borders

This just in: Texas Student Media has a new director. Gary Borders, publisher of the Hill Country News in Cedar Park, will be taking over from interim TSM director Jennifer Hammat on June 20. Gary, a native of Longview who got his masters degree in journalism at UT, brings extensive experience in newspaper and online journalism to a key post at TSM during a time of great transition and opportunity for the organization. Read more about Gary and his vision for student media at UT when the Texan resumes publication next week!

With the hope to unite the academic and student affairs aspects of campus, Gage Paine will take her position as vice president for student affairs starting August 1.

University President William Powers Jr. said in an email Friday that Paine will replace current Vice President for Student Affairs Juan González, who is returning to teach at the University after seven years in the position. Gonzalez announced his resignation last July and UT administration announced four finalists in March. There were 77 applicants for the position.

In the past seven years as the vice president for student affairs, Gonzalez supervised and led initiatives to build the Student Activities Center and Almetris Duren Residence Hall. Gonzalez recently came under the spotlight in February when he asked former Texas Student Media Director Gary Borders to resign or be terminated because he was unhappy with Borders' performance. Soon after the incident, Kevin Hegarty, UT vice president and chief financial officer, became for the primary contact for TSM issues and questions about Borders resignation.

Paine previously served as vice president for student affairs at UT-San Antonio, which serves approximately 30,000 students. The UT-Austin student affairs position serves about 50,000 undergraduate and graduate students and oversees several aspects of campus, including the Division of Housing and Food Service, the Office of the Dean of Students, University Health Services, Student Financial Services and Texas Student Media, among other university entities.

Paine said as the new vice president she is charged to get student and academic affairs to work together to increase efficiency across campus. Paine visited campus in April to attend an open forum with students about her candidacy.

“I think that is a great thing for us to be working on as a University,” Paine said. “One of the things I said in my interview is that if five years from now people are still saying ‘I wish student affairs and academic affairs would work together’ then I wouldn’t have done a very good job.”

Beyond integrating student and academic affairs, Paine said she did not have any other specific goals for UT.

“What I need to do is come in and see what is going on,” Paine said. “Until I get on campus and really sit down and talk to people and listen to what they have to tell me, I really can’t formulate any goals that are specific.”

Paine has worked as the University of Texas at San Antonio’s vice president for student affairs for more than five years. During the fall of 2011, she played a role in establishing UTSA’s first football team.

“We had a huge student affairs, athletics and campus initiative to make sure that when we had our first game it felt like we had been doing it a long time,” Paine said. “It was a campus wide coordinated effort to have a great football event for each football game.”

Paine earned her PhD in educational administration at UT Austin in 1996 and said she was looking forward to being back in Austin.

“UT Austin is a great campus and so I’m really excited about being in a really vibrant interesting place so I think it’s really fun to be back there,” Paine said. 

The Daily Texan and Texas Student Media, the organization that oversees the paper’s budget, confront a projected budget deficit of $175,000 for 2012. Former TSM director Gary Borders resigned Feb. 8 after meeting with Juan Gonzalez, vice president of student affairs, who announced in July that he will step down as an administrator and return to teaching at the University. Borders said Gonzalez told him he could either resign or be fired.

Gonzalez and Jennifer Hammat, assistant vice president of student affairs, began discussing their dissatisfaction with Borders’ job performance on Jan. 25, according to The Daily Texan, but neither discussed their concerns with the TSM Board of Operating Trustees before Borders’ resignation.

University administrators attempted to sanitize Borders’ resignation by calling the episode a “failure of communication.” Because the University did not consult the TSM board, it impinged on The Daily Texan’s independence and took an initial, heavy step on the path to exerting undue influence that could ultimately lead to censorship. At the same time — and probably not coincidentally — the deficit has thrown the Texan’s institutional connection to the University into high relief. All this unfolds at a moment when the organization is struggling to close a budget gap without discontinuing the paltry wages it pays its student employees — wages which, in recent decades, have failed to keep up with inflation.

UT owes TSM a deception-free explanation for Borders’ resignation, and TSM owes it to itself to right its ship before the opportunity to maintain and even strengthen its independence is lost.

The Texan is not the first student newspaper to grapple with financial challenges and face questions about its independence.

The Daily Illini, published and serving the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, recently moved to charge students $3 per semester in student fees to maintain its rate of publication. The Red and Black, published independently and serving the University of Georgia, went to a weekly print product but publishes online daily.

Jill Disis, current editor of The Daily Illini, commented, “Editorial independence is important. If a newspaper ends up in a position that compromises it, it’s not doing its job as a watchdog and a check. You’re not providing the students with the opportunity to do good, solid, correct, faithful journalism if you’re censoring the kinds of things they can do.”

In order for the Texan and TSM to continue their tradition of serving UT by producing journalism with students’ interests in mind, the paper and the organization must be forward-looking. A technologically savvy way to deliver the stories made here to an audience of mostly college-aged students is not unthinkable. But if the news organization fails to make itself sustainable and profitable, another possibility looms: a long spiral of dwindling circulation and relevance, ending when the Texan ceases to exist at all.

Texas Student Media recently named Jalah Goette the interim acting director Wednesday after Gary BordersÂ’ resignation last month. Her first priority will be balancing the projected $175,000 TSM budget deficit for 2012.

Photo Credit: Nathan Goldsmith | Daily Texan Staff

Texas Student Media assistant director Jalah Goette will serve as interim TSM director until someone is selected to permanently fill the position, the TSM Board of Trustees decided Wednesday.

Goette’s appointment comes almost exactly one month after the former TSM director Gary Borders’ Feb. 8 resignation, which Borders later said was forced by vice president of Student Affairs Juan Gonzalez.

Goette will hold the position for an undetermined amount of time because the TSM board has higher priorities, Goette said.

“Based off what the board said, there is no defined timeline for how long I am needed to act as the director,” she said. “The priority right now is to stabilize the organization and identify a plan to balance the budget as soon as possible.”

TSM currently faces a projected $175,000 deficit for 2012, according to the TSM consolidated financial summary.

“Our only problem is the budget,” said TSM board president Lindsey Powers. “The students are great and all the publications and stations are great. It’s just the budget, and [Goette] has already been working so hard on that so we really think she’ll do a good job.”

Goette, who has been with TSM for six years, said she will oversee the day-to-day business of TSM as director in addition to her current duties as assistant director, in which she oversees TSM business and advertising. Goette said she did not apply for the position, but showed interest in serving during the interim time. The TSM board reviewed Goette’s qualifications and selected her at a board meeting Wednesday.

“In the coming weeks I’ll have a chance to sit down with the chair of the board and find out the specifics of the job description,” Goette said. “I’ll find out how different duties can be shared.”

Goette said she is proud of the improved communication between the TSM board members, students and the University in the past few weeks since the controversy over Borders’ resignation, and she hopes to continue it.

“Communication is essential to the success of TSM,” she said. “I am so pleased with the way everyone has pulled together recently to build a strong line of communication.”

KVRX station manager Travis Bubenik said Goette is a good fit for the position because of her years of experience with TSM.

“I just wanted to be sure we didn’t appoint someone outside of TSM because the problems are just too complicated, and we don’t have time to throw someone in there out of nowhere,” Bubenik said. “She has a great budget presentation and knows the finances of TSM like the back of her hand. It was a wise move to appoint her.”

The University's forced resignation of two former administrators falls under University employment rules that give the president the power to hire and fire. However, a vice president took the dismissal action against the Texas Student Media director instead of President William Powers Jr.

Under these rules, some administrators serve “at the pleasure of the president.” Serving at the pleasure of the president means that they do not have formal contracts with the University and therefore do not have the same job security as other staff members. Administrative officers including vice presidents, deans, department chairs and various program directors, serve under these terms. Since December, Larry Sager, former dean of the law school, and Gary Borders, former Texas Student Media director, were asked to resign or be fired under this procedure.

Kevin Hegarty, chief financial officer and vice president for the University, is employed at the pleasure of the president and spoke to The Daily Texan on Feb. 21 about this type of employment. He is also the contact for matters about the Feb. 8 resignation of Borders. Borders told The Daily Texan that Vice President of Student Affairs Juan Gonzalez said Borders had to resign or be fired.

“They gave him some time to think about it, but rather than think about it, he resigned,” Hegarty said. “It's viewed as a more graceful way out.”

Hegarty said he is investigating the situation and said Powers cannot delegate such a personnel action to a vice president. He said Powers gave Gonzalez verbal approval to take the personnel action and he has not seen written approval from the president.

Hegarty said this form of employment is also seen in the private business sector.

“It's the freedom to make employer decisions at will,” Hegarty said. “Otherwise, you get into a situation where employees are given bargaining rights.”

Debra Kress, associate vice president for Human Resource Services, said administrative officers are the highest level employees that would serve at the pleasure of the president. Other employee positions require specific criteria for dismissal, but Kress said administrative officers can be dismissed “for any reason or no reason, as long as it's not an illegal reason.”

Kress said dismissals under this process are “not exceptional, it's not infrequent.”

Kevin Hegarty, University vice president and chief financial officer, admitted a “flat out failure” in communication between the University and Texas Student Media Board of Trustees prior to former TSM director Gary Borders’ Feb. 8 resignation.

Hegarty, who was appointed to replace Vice President of Student Affairs Juan Gonzalez in dealing with the matter of Borders’ resignation, discussed the situation during a TSM board meeting on Feb. 27. During the meeting, the board met with Hegarty and Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs Jennifer Hammat to discuss events resulting in the resignation, which Borders said was forced by Gonzalez because of his proposal suggesting the sale of the broadcast licenses of TSTV and KVRX as one option to balance the TSM budget.

Gonzalez and Hammat began discussing Borders’ termination on Jan. 25 due to disatisfaction with his leadership and lack of clarity and direction in his budget setting plans.

TSM board president Lindsey Powers said board members were not notified about the vice president’s office’s disatisfaction with Borders’ performance or his proposal to sell TSTV and KVRX.

“There was a failure in communication not just between the University and the TSM Board of Trustees, but it sounds like there was also a failure between the trustees [not involved] and the trustees involved,” Hegarty said. “There was a flat-out failure in communication.”

The TSM Board of Trustees and the Office of Student Affairs jointly oversee TSM decisions, and Powers said many TSM board members are frustrated that a proposal was discussed without their knowledge, after which Borders was allegedly forced to resign without consulting the TSM board.

“I understand decisions like this require an official discussion, but that’s why we have meetings,” Powers said. “If there are any issues that need to be brought up, they need to be brought up immediately at the meeting so we know what to expect. We need to get that information out there.”

KVRX station manager Travis Bubenik said it is imperative that students have a say in an enterprise which claims to be run by students in its title.

“I want to stress that the desire for full communication extends from our vice president’s office all the way down to our offices and our staff,” Bubenik said. “It’s TSM for Texas Student Media so I do think it’s important that these kinds of ideas should be talked about and discussed at board meetings, especially because they will be affecting us.”

Hammat said there was a lack of communication because she and Gonzalez gave Borders a day to make a decision to resign or be terminated, so they were unprepared when he resigned during the meeting. Hammat said the quick decision left no time to inform the TSM board.

“I’m sorry we didn’t hold a meeting [with the TSM board],” Hammat said. “That was my mistake. When we held the meeting with Gary on Feb. 8, I genuinely believed we were going to have a meeting the next day. In situations like this, people do not usually make a decision to resign so quickly, so we were caught off guard.”

A TSM board meeting is scheduled for March 7 to appoint an acting TSM director who will fill the position until a permanent director is hired. The board will set its next budget at a March 19 meeting.

Printed on Tuesday, February 28, 2012 as: UT failed to communicate in resignation Hegarty says

As the Texas Student Media Board of Trustees meets this morning to discuss specific issues regarding the circumstances surrounding the recent resignation of director Gary Borders, the organization also faces ongoing repercussions of financial and staffing problems that have accumulated over the past few years.

A budget deficit, falling advertising revenue and recurrent vacancies in critical leadership roles are affecting TSM’s ability to operate. While budget deficits and falling advertising revenue are problems that plague college media nationwide, some problems may have arisen from TSM’s unique structure.

“No other collegiate media entity that I am aware of has a governing board and University reporting [requirement],” said Jennifer Hammat, assistant vice president of student affairs and a former interim director of TSM.

A board of operating trustees governs TSM, which is not independent of UT. Its entities include The Daily Texan, TSTV, KVRX 91.7 FM, The Cactus Yearbook and The Texas Travesty, a humor publication. The director of TSM reports to both the vice president of student affairs and the TSM board of trustees. The Declaration of Trust for the organization states an endowment of $5 million would allow TSM to become an independent entity, but unless such an endowment is made, TSM employees are considered employees of the University.

The involvement of the Office of Student Affairs in employment matters has become a source of conflict at TSM in recent days. Borders told the Texan that Juan Gonzalez, the outgoing vice president of student affairs, forced his Feb. 8 resignation after Borders raised the ideas of selling TSM’s television and radio licenses. Gonzalez said he followed policy involving university personnel performance with regard to Borders’ resignation.

Wanda Cash, associate director of the School of Journalism and former TSM board member, said personnel performance issues were previously handled much differently, including when she was on the board.

“If there were performance issues, the vice president of student affairs contacted me, and then in consultation with the president of the board we worked out what had arisen,” Cash said. “This time that did not happen and that’s what is very troubling. The vice president of student affairs acted alone in terminating the director.”

Board member Tim Lott, vice president of audience strategy for the Cox Media Group, said the board was unaware there was a problem with Borders’ performance.

“I literally had no idea there was any sort of problem that could potentially end in a termination,” Lott said.

Borders was the third director TSM had seen in as many years. Kathy McCarty departed TSM in 2009 after serving 15 years. Hammat served as the interim director for nearly two years and participated in one failed search for a replacement until Borders was hired in summer 2011 after a second search. The board will discuss the possibility of appointing a an interim TSM director this morning.

Meanwhile, the search has not yet begun for a replacement for Jennifer Rubin, former multimedia adviser who departed in October 2011 after six months on the job.

Board member Mark Morrison, a lecturer in the journalism school, said it’s imperative a replacement is found quickly.

“We need to establish leadership,” Morrison said.

While facing absent leadership, TSM has a March 19 budget deadline looming. The organization is already facing the effects of a budget deficit.

The 2011-2012 annual budget has a projected $175,252 deficit that draws from the organization’s reserve fund that fell to $723,665.55 in November. Advertising revenue for TSM has declined from $2,326,411 four years ago, to $1,509,839 last year.

Texas Student Television is the only TSM entity budgeted for a profit this year.

The Daily Texan, which accounts for 89 percent of TSM advertising revenue, has seen changes in the three years since it last posted profit.

Since 2009, The Daily Texan has sold its press, outsourced printing and distribution, which resulted in staff layoffs and is making plans to reduce summer print production to once weekly. A second round of layoffs among TSM professional staff followed a reorganization in 2011.

Borders’ claim that he was dismissed because of budget-cutting proposals has led Cash to question the vice president’s role.

“The issue here is: is it right for the Office of Student Affairs to continue oversight as the president’s designee of Texas Student Media?” asked Cash.

Cash said she believes revising the Declaration of Trust to make the dean of the College of Communication the University’s designee to oversee TSM, instead of the office of student affairs, would be a better arrangement than the current one.

“In the College of Communication we have an understanding of journalism,” Cash said. “We have the right sensibility of journalism — of first amendment rights, of freedom of the press and our common disdain for prior restraint and censorship. I’m not sure the office of student affairs shares that sensibility.”

Regardless of who is the university’s designee for oversight of TSM, board president and third-year law student Lindsey Powers said the University needs to remember common courtesy when communicating with the board of trustees.

“I think a lot of people have forgotten how important it is to consult a board,” Powers said.

Kevin Hegarty, vice president and chief financial officer for the University, was recently appointed by President William Powers Jr. to investigate the circumstances of Borders’ termination.

Although Hegarty said the board should be granted the courtesy of consultation before terminating employees, he said because the University is the employer of TSM’s employees, Borders was subject to termination by the University. He said the University had more say in TSM’s operations than a yearly performance review.

“The role of the University is to counsel, to coach and to do what it can to support the board of trustees,” Hegarty said.

Hegarty said he hopes University and TSM relations improve after today’s meeting.

“The intent is to be very consultative and to come to solutions that are collaborative and cooperative,” Hegarty said. “Hopefully we can move forward.”

On Feb. 8, then-Texas Student Media director Gary Borders announced his resignation, a move that came as a surprise to TSM board members and student staffers alike.

Juan Gonzalez, the outgoing vice president for student affairs, said in a statement that Borders decided to resign “after meeting with my office about employment expectations. Had Mr. Borders not decided to resign, UT employment policies would have continued to be followed by my office in consultation with the Board of Operating Trustees.”

However, last week, Borders told The Daily Texan he did not wish to resign but was forced to do so by Gonzalez without warning or reason. Borders — who, in practice, was tasked with reporting to both the TSM Board of Operating Trustees and the vice president of student affairs’ office — did not show any sign that he was planning to leave.

Regardless, members of the TSM board, which shares oversight of TSM with the vice president of student affairs’ office, should have been consulted. This resignation comes at a time of tremendous transition for TSM, which currently faces a deficit of $175,000. The board has had two job searches for the director position in the last three years. TSM also needs to find a replacement for the multimedia adviser position, as the previous adviser, who was hired last year, left after only six months.

The resignation of Borders, who served as director for only seven months, reflects poorly on both the University and TSM, though TSM had no say in the matter. So far, Borders’ side of the story is the only one to surface. Though releasing specific details about Borders’ resignation could have various repercussions for the University, administrators should at least provide board members with some answers.

In the meantime, the board must find an interim director in order to fulfill its duties. Jennifer Hammat, assistant vice president for student affairs, sent an email Feb. 14 to members of the Texas Student Media Board of Operating Trustees scheduling an emergency meeting for Feb. 17 to discuss an interim replacement for the position. But after it became evident that the board would not meet quorum, board members rescheduled the meeting for Monday. As Lindsey Powers, president of the board and a third-year UT law student, said in an email response to Hammat and to the board, “It is not the University’s place to decide when we meet.”

The University has been anything but transparent in this process. Obviously, the details of Borders’ resignation still remain unclear, and members of TSM — an organization comprising The Daily Texan, Texas Student Television, student radio station KVRX 91.7 FM, humor publication The Texas Travesty and the Cactus Yearbook — deserve answers.

Earlier this week, the University assigned Kevin Hegarty, UT’s vice president and chief financial officer, to address the controversy surrounding Borders’ resignation. However, Hegarty told The Daily Texan shortly after the assignment, “I have recently come into this position and am not familiar with the specifics yet, but I will within the next day or two.” That the University assigned someone who was admittedly unfamiliar with the situation at the time to deal with it
is troubling.

Hopefully Monday’s meeting will provide board members and others interested with more details about Borders’ resignation so the board can determine how best to move forward. Ultimately, any decision in that regard should be left to the board.