Student Media Board Huddles As Leader Controversy Continues

Texas Student Media is facing a plight that media both national and college-level are experiencing: a budget deficit. But a $175,000 shortfall may be the least of TSM’s worries.

At a meeting this morning, the Texas Student Media Board huddled amid continued fallout from the forced resignation of director Gary Borders earlier this month. Its latest leadership controversy shed light on poor communication and procedural inadequacies within TSM, which oversees the Daily Texan, TSTV, KVRX, the Cactus, and the Texas Travesty. TSM, which has its own governing board yet still operates within the University, has had three new directors in just four years.

Borders’ resignation abruptly came about after outgoing vice president of student affairs Juan Gonzalez had what Borders called a “climbing-the-walls” response to his proposal to sell the TSTV and KVRX licenses for an estimated $3 million. The move, Borders suggested, could have eliminated TSM’s budget woes.

According to Borders, who had been with TSM for seven months, Gonzalez gave him an ultimatum: resign or be fired.

Gary Borders

“It seems like he crossed some imaginary line of ideas that were okay to explore and were not,” Mike Mackert, a TSM board member and UT advertising professor, said Monday.

The biggest issue: the TSM Board wasn’t notified that Gary was on the chopping block. Board members said Monday they’d never been told anything was lacking about Borders’ performance. And though he reached the end of his six-month probationary period a month ago, Borders says he had never had a performance evaluation at TSM.

The lack of communication between the vice president’s office and TSM’s governing board quickly came under fire during the meeting.

“The better process would have been to consult with the board, there’s no doubt about that. There’s no excuse for poor communication,” said UT vice president and chief financial officer Kevin Hegarty. Hegarty was asked to replace Gonzalez, who will leave his leadership post later this year, in handling the Borders issue.

Now TSM is left once again with an absence of leadership. While the process of appointing an interim director is ongoing, the March 19 budget deadline is looming.

According to the Daily Texan, Texas Student Media is facing not only a deficit, but also continuously falling ad revenue—down from $2.3 million four years ago to just $1.5 million this year. TSTV is the only TSM entity that has turned a profit in the last year.

Now the race is on for the TSM board to appoint a new director who’s capable of pinching pennies, in addition to a new multimedia advisor to replace Jennifer Rubin, who left TSM last October. But don’t hold your breath—the last search for a new director lasted 22 months.

Top: courtesy Flickr user NS Newsflash. Bottom: courtesy the Daily Texan.


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