Professors’ History of UT to be Unauthorized

The pictorial history of UT will include photos, like the one above, and detail the history of the university from its start as the Tampa Bay Hotel. Photo courtesy of Sean Madden.

Efforts to publish a pictorial history of The University of Tampa were turned down earlier this month by administration, leaving one UT professor and alumnus/former UT professor frustrated and left to seek another means of publication.

Sean Maddan, associate professor of criminology and criminal justice at UT, has been working on a book that will document the history of the university all the way back to the Tampa Bay Hotel years with co-author James Beckman, an alumnus and former UT faculty member and now chair of the Department of Legal Studies at the University of Central Florida.

Maddan met with Beckman during the summer to talk about another project when he asked Beckman if he would be interested in co-authoring a pictorial history on UT through Arcadia Publishing. Although reluctant, Beckman agreed.

Twice before Maddan approached him, Beckman had pitched the idea of a history on UT to be published by the Arcadia Publishing Company’s Campus History series. Beckman had previously written a book on Harpers Ferry, which has sold “in excess of several thousand copies.” The book was also written on in two UT Journal articles (“Professor Published Third Book This Year,” in Fall 2006, and “Alumni Take a Trip Back in Time,” in Fall 2008). The UT Journal  is a magazine published three times a year for UT’s alumni, parents and friends.

Beckman was contacted twice by editors from Arcadia while he was a faculty member at the university to write a history book on UT, similar to that of Harpers Ferry. He reached out to Todd Marrs, then-director of Alumni Affairs for institutional support, which Arcadia Publishing required in order to publish the history of UT.

“My understanding is that ‘institutional support’ meant a minimum pre-order of a reasonable number of books (e.g., 400-600) at a significantly discounted rate…and that UT will generally support the book through the UT Alumni Office (through at least one article),” said Beckman. He continued, “Given that the UT Alumni journal has run two articles on my Harpers Ferry book (articles in Fall 2006 and Fall 2008), I didn’t see this requirement as much of a problem.”

According to Beckman, after he contacted Marrs, Marrs spoke with President Ronald Vaughn, who quickly turned the project down, which Beckman said was without explanation. The first proposal for the pictorial history was in fall 2006.

The second proposal was pitched in 2008, after Beckman had been contacted again by another editor from Arcadia Publishing, asking if he was still interested in writing UT’s history. Once again, the proposal was rejected by UT administration.

“No further explanation was provided, except that President Vaughn wasn’t ‘interested’ in the project, or so it was relayed back to me,” said Beckman. “I remember thinking at the time what a shame it was that an alumnus of the university and two well respected members of the faculty (with good publication records) couldn’t get the approval to write such a book at their own university.”

Beckman eventually gave up and forgot about the idea for the pictorial history and left UT in May 2011 when he was offered a position at UCF, after 11 years as a UT faculty member. When Maddan brought the idea up again this summer, Beckman agreed to co-author on one condition: that Maddan would handle the issue of institutional support. Maddan agreed.

Maddan began the process of obtaining institutional support from the university, writing a letter to Interim Dean Joseph Sclafani, who, according to Maddan, approved the idea for the project. In a letter provided by Maddan between Sclafani and Maggie Bullwinkel, a publisher at Arcadia Publishing, Sclafani wrote, “I am aware of Dr. Jim Beckman and Dr. Sean Maddan’s project on the history of the University of Tampa and Plant Hall. I am supportive of their efforts.”

“I wrote the letter, but Joe Sclafani, who was my dean, signed off on it, right? Makes sense. So basically, that’s support of the university, right? I’ve done my due diligence. I’ve gone through the right paths,” said Maddan.

A contract was then drawn up in “basically a month,” according to Maddan. The contract included a second addendum, an addition made to the contract, which asked for an upfront agreement that a piece on the book would be published in the UT Journal. Maddan then contacted Director of Public Information Eric Cardenas, who, in an email provided by Maddan between Cardenas and Maddan on Aug. 31, said, “While we do eagerly look to publish information about faculty books, [the alumni magazine staff] would want to review the galleys/proofs/press copy prior to committing to writing an article. We’d want to reserve the right to not publish an article for whatever reason.”

Cardenas continued, “Honestly, I would think a book like this would be something we’d want to write about in the Journal, but our ‘policy’ is to review any publication before we include it. However, we can discuss if you think it will hurt your publishing deal.”

He then mentioned that Sclafani would be in discussion with President Vaughn and Provost  Janet McNew and that it would “make sense to hold [Cardenas’] communication to [Maddan’s publisher] until after the conversation.”

On Sept. 5, Maddan received another email from Scalfani, this time, clarifying that there would in fact be no official endorsement from the university.

In the email provided by Maddan, Sclafani wrote, “I have checked some more into your request for endorsements to publish a history/picture book about UT. The University’s response is no.”

He continued stating that a book like the one Maddan and Beckman proposed would have to be “commissioned by UT and have official UT involvement from the earliest stages of production.”

“Since neither of these conditions are met, neither I nor the University can endorse or sign off on any permissions for you and the Arcadia Publishing group,” Sclafani wrote.

“So now the question becomes, am I not allowed to write the book period, which I think it actually suggests in [the email] at one point based upon one of the clauses… or is it a matter of am I precluded from doing the book just through that publisher,” said Maddan.

“Now I met with Joe Sclafani and he said, ‘well that just means you can’t do it through that publisher’, but, upon reading, the reading’s pretty tough about the fact, and quite frankly, why would they not want me to write a book? I wonder why,” continued Maddan.

Even though Maddan thinks that Sclafani “has really done a good job [with] this,” he thinks the rejection of the proposal was a personal attack.

“I bet money [it’s] personal,” Maddan said, believing that his past with the university had more to do with the proposal’s rejection than the issue of institutional support. Last fall, the UT faculty senate voted to censure Maddan on the grounds of alleged violations of confidentiality.

Sclafani redirected questions to Cardenas, who affirmed, “No approval for university sponsorship was ever given to Prof. Maddan. When approached by Maddan about his support of a book proposal, Dean Sclafani misunderstood what was being asked of him. As dean, he wanted to encourage any scholarly effort by a faculty member, but he had neither authority nor inclination to offer institutional support for an official history project.”

He stated that the condition of institutional support was an issue because “the project was not endorsed by UT administration” and therefore, “[the UT Journal] most likely would not publish an article about it, specifying that the university “cannot give publishers an assurance that a book is an official history of the institution when the University has neither commissioned nor had significant involvement in its production.”

“The rationale for doing the book, at least in my perspective, was because I’ve taken so much grief from this university over the last couple of years…. I thought this would be a good way to get my name back to a certain extent,” said Maddan.

Maddan and Beckman have secured another publisher who does not require institutional support from UT. The book is projected to be finished sometime near the end of the month.

“I am a proud alumnus of the University of Tampa and spent 15 years of my life at UT (four years as a student; 11 years as a faculty member). My intention in working on this book with Dr. Maddan was (and is) to ultimately produce a pictorial history book for which my fellow alumni and students of the University can be proud. Dr. Maddan and I have already spent countless hours deciding what images and text will appear in such a work. It has been a labor of love, thus far,” said Beckman.

“There’s too much work that’s been done and I’m not going to stop now… I know to some extent, you know, they probably don’t personally care for me for the most part or think that I have anything positive to say about the university, but like I said, my goal was basically to do a book and to have something very positive,” Maddan asserted.

Beckman added, “The topic of the history of UT is not owned or controlled by an administrator. If the history belongs to anyone, it belongs to the alumni. The book will be targeted and marketed to alumni, not the ‘senior staff’ at UT. In fact, the book is being dedicated to the alumni, without whom the institution wouldn’t exist.”

Jessica Keesee can be reached at jessica.keesee@theminaretonline.com

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