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College newspaper advisor on leave over alleged misconduct

April 01, 2013|By Joe Piasecki

The decision to place the faculty advisor for Pasadena City College's student newspaper on leave “has no connection to his teaching performance or any coverage of the administration by the Courier,” a top-ranking official wrote in an email to all faculty and staff on Monday.

Warren Swil, advisor to the paper since 2007, was placed on paid leave Thursday pending investigation of undisclosed allegations of misconduct.

Retired journalism professor Mikki Bolliger, who advised the Courier from 1973 to 2007, is taking on Swil’s newspaper and teaching duties.

In an email to members of the statewide Journalism Assn. of Community Colleges on Friday, Bolliger said Pasadena City College “is in a state of political crisis” and “because of the paper's coverage of the turmoil, the consensus on campus is that the journalism program has been targeted by the administration.”

The Courier has published several articles critical of the college’s administration in recent weeks, prompting some faculty and students to speculate that Swil’s leave of absence is in retaliation for the coverage.

But in the email sent to staff and faculty on Monday, Robert Bell, vice president for academic and student affairs, said “such assertions are incorrect.”

“I made the decision that placing professor Swil on leave was legally required and was necessary for the protection of the complainant, pending an outside, independent investigation into the allegations,” Bell said.

College officials have declined to state the nature of the claims against Swil.

For his part, Swil has also declined to comment, and his attorney could not be reached Monday.

Meanwhile, Bolliger will begin advising production of the Courier on Tuesday.

“I’m not here to change the paper, just to give them some guidance when they need it,” Bolliger said.

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