Sandra Boyette, vice president for university advancement at Wake Forest University, and a faculty committee announced Monday that they recommend another administrative office oversee the university’s public radio station, WFDD.
Boyette, who has been responsible for WFDD (88.5 FM) for 10 years, announced her recommendation late Monday afternoon at a meeting of undergraduate College faculty.
“I have Ö recommended to (Wake Forest President Thomas K. Hearn Jr.) that he consider a different administrative oversight for the station,” said Boyette, who did not suggest a particular department to assume the responsibility. Boyette’s responsibilities include supervising Wake Forest fundraising and public affairs, as well as WFDD.
Following her remarks, the faculty heard a similar recommendation from Associate Professor of Politics Katy Harriger, a member of an interim faculty advisory committee that Hearn established recently.
Harriger said the station, “as an independent unit of the university,” should report to the Provost’s office.
“The station must be removed from the aegis of University Advancement because of an inherent conflict between the necessary goals of fundraising and public relations and the station’s need for independence in its coverage of news regarding the university,” Harriger announced, reading from a written list of recommendations for the station.
“Similarly, the same principle of separation between fundraising and news functions should be followed within the organizational structure of the station,” Harriger added.
“None of us should have to worry about conflict of interest, and I am hopeful that we can put that issue to rest,” Boyette said.
Boyette told the College faculty that she made her recommendation to the university’s president Monday morning. Hours later, she met with the faculty committee and heard its similar suggestion. Boyette and the committee presented their recommendations at the end of the day at the College faculty meeting.
“Studying the matter separately, we came to similar conclusions,” Boyette said following the College faculty meeting.
The subject of WFDD’s supervision came under consideration in recent weeks after a controversy developed between WFDD and Wake Forest, which holds the station’s FCC license and operates the station. In interviews with the news media, some members of the station’s staff voiced their objection to a request by Boyette in September to limit WFDD coverage of a particular Wake Forest trustee report.
Afterward, Boyette appeared before an open meeting of the university’s Faculty Senate and apologized for making the request; she repeated her apology Monday before the College faculty. In each appearance, Boyette expressed her commitment to freedom of the press at Wake Forest.
Wake Forest President Hearn established the interim faculty advisory committee for WFDD after the controversy arose.
The complete recommendations by the committee include the following:
- The university must affirm unequivocally that WFDD has complete independence in its editorial decisions, newsgathering and news reporting. All decisions relating to the hiring, assignment, direction, promotion and retention of the station’s personnel must respect and protect their journalistic independence and honor the principles of free inquiry and free expression.
- The station, as an independent unit of the university, should report to the Provost. The station must be removed from the aegis of University Advancement because of an inherent conflict between the necessary goals of fundraising and public relations and the station’s need for independence in its coverage of news regarding the university. Similarly, the same principle of separation between fundraising and news functions should be followed within the organizational structure of the station.
- The existing policy statements of the station regarding editorial decision making are adequate and do not need revision. What is missing is a clear university policy regarding its relationship to the station. Points 1 and 2 above would remedy substantially that problem.
In her remarks to the College faculty, Boyette emphasized “no one (at WFDD) will be demoted, disciplined or fired because of the event that occurred in September.”
Paul Brown, WFDD’s program director, remains on paid leave at his request, Boyette said. Brown requested the leave after the controversy arose.
Sign up for weekly news highlights.Subscribe