After conduct review, university licensee drops incoming Arizona PBS CEO

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PBS NewsHour

The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in Phoenix.

Sonya Forte Duhé, who was appointed in March to lead Arizona PBS in Phoenix, will no longer join the organization after officials reviewed allegations that she had made inappropriate comments to students in her previous role at another university.


Duhé was scheduled to replace Christopher Callahan next month as CEO of Arizona PBS and dean of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, the station’s licensee. ASU announced Sunday that Duhé would not become dean and that an interim dean will be announced this week.

“At the time we had high confidence we had selected the right person for the position. Subsequently, issues and concerns have arisen and additional information has come to light,” wrote ASU EVP and Provost Mark Searle in a memo, noting that the Cronkite School and the public TV station “will be better served by not advancing with Dr. Duhé as their leader.”

The decision comes after current and former students at Loyola University in New Orleans, where Duhé previously served as a distinguished professor and director of the school of communication and design, said she had made racist and homophobic comments to them. The allegations against Duhé did not come up when ASU vetted her, according to a university spokesperson, but Searle and university President Michael Crow began looking into the concerns last week.

After ASU announced its review, student leaders at the university demanded in a petition that the institution retract its offer to Duhé. Faculty members also wrote a letter to President Crow encouraging officials not to give her the job. According to the Arizona Republic, some faculty said they might have left if Duhé became dean and that donors were reconsidering donations to the school because of the controversy.

The letter also said that Duhé, who had started some work at the Cronkite School ahead of her official first day, “berated” staff in a virtual meeting when she criticized a host and producer for Arizona Horizon, a show on Arizona PBS, and questioned why students weren’t covering protests in person.

Duhé is no longer an employee of Loyola University, according to the school’s student newspaper, which reported Monday that Duhé resigned from Loyola when she accepted the deanship at ASU.

A spokesperson for Loyola did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Duhé has not responded to requests for comment.

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