Sunday, February 25, 2018
Education

Longtime USF VP resigns after investigation

TAMPA — A longtime University of South Florida vice president for communications has resigned in the wake of allegations that he created a "hostile and offensive working atmosphere" for female subordinates.

Michael Hoad, who spent 25 years at the university, resigned effective last Friday from his position as an associate vice president of communications at USF Health. He had resigned from his other position, as vice president of communications for the university, in September.

An internal investigation last October concluded Hoad made a series of inappropriate remarks in 2012. Some examples:

• Hoad told female student assistants of "all the girls he dated in college and discussed his sex life."

• After a suggestion was made in a staff meeting about starting a blog called "Between the Lines'' during the Republican National Convention, he joked it should be called "Between the Sheets'' and written by a female staffer.

• He texted female interns after hours and posted one woman's photo on his computer.

"Hoad's conduct unreasonably interfered with employees' job performance," wrote investigator Mary Li Creasy. "There is no circumstances under which employees or students of the University should have to get together to try and figure out how to avoid the unwanted attention, unnecessary flattery and sexual comments."

The investigator said she received no allegations suggesting Hoad had propositioned or inappropriately touched the women. But his behavior was "belittling and unprofessional," the report said, and by singling out women, Hoad created "a hostile and offensive working atmosphere … on the basis of gender."

Hoad appealed the report's findings last November, writing that some allegations were overstated and taken out of context. He said the investigator did not take into account mitigating factors, including his recent illness.

"While there were instances of unprofessional behavior for which I'm deeply sorry … there was no sustained discrimination based on gender," Hoad wrote.

In December, his appeal was denied by M. Dwayne Smith, senior vice provost for academic affairs.

On Jan. 3, Hoad submitted a brief note to USF president Judy Genshaft and other top leaders, saying he would resign from USF effective Feb. 1 "to develop a new career strategy and look ahead."

On Monday, Hoad told the Tampa Bay Times that he could not go into details about the allegations because doing so might inadvertently identify the women who complained about his behavior. He said the time in which he made the remarks — spring and summer of 2012 — was particularly stressful as he dealt with a serious heart condition and led the communications effort during state budget cuts.

"I'm very apologetic to anyone I did offend," he said.

USF declined to comment in detail. "USF is committed to providing a safe and comfortable environment for all employees and students," said Terri Drye, USF's associate vice president of human resources, in a statement.

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