Joe Hice's Latest Comments Show How Little He Gets It

A few months ago, I wrote an article here on The Daily Stampede calling out USF for a "disingenuous and misleading" Mean Tweets video which claimed to capture the tone of the USF student's Social Media reaction to the now-defunct logo change. At first, I didn't think many people cared about what I wrote until I started getting random emails from people throughout the university thanking me for pointing out the bold face lies being presented in the video. To quote one person who messaged me, "your postings helped me build a case and fight from within." Ever since I made that post, every time USF VP and Chief Marketing Office Joe Hice speaks, tweets, or farts in public, I get a few emails, texts, and messages about it.

The ironic thing about me becoming one of the faces of the Fire Joe Hice club is that I actually didn't hate the logo. I didn't like it, but I didn't have the visceral reaction that the overwhelming majority of USF alumni, students, and fans had when they saw it. (For the record, I was far more concerned and upset over the proposed new slogan "Ambition over Tradition", which was tone-deaf and inconsiderate of USF's outstanding commitment to U.S. military veteran education.) I'm also generally not the type of person who likes to call for people to get fired, although I am happy to make exceptions. I discovered that the "mean tweets" were actually comments in a comment section by accident. I went to the link presented in the Mean Tweets video, and I read that there was a huge comment section, so I started reading it and found that the comments were picked from the comments, not from social media.

The wave of texts and messages that I got this evening about Joe Hice concerned a presentation he gave about the lessons he learned from the fallout of the Logogate. For the record, he does ask a fair question at the beginning of this presentation: "What do we lose by being bold? What do we gain by staying the same?" The sports world is plagued by coaches, GM, and team CEOs who get stuck in a "we won titles in the 1950s without Indoor Practice Facilities and Food Tables, why do we need them now?!?" that wastes talent and people's lives. A fear of change and lack of boldness often leads to malaise and eventual failure of organizations, companies, and universities.

Let's ignore for a moment that the rest of his presentation was filled with blatantly false information and a profound lack of self awareness. (I will briefly include this tweet from Collin Sherwin: Text to me from a member of a USF org: "Public record will show he presented to faculty/staff and alumni boards and they told him it sucked.") His true downfall is that boldness for boldness sake is not enough to be successful. One of the things I do as a professor is that I keep an "Alumni and Industry Advice Guide" filled with quotes from hundred of former students, alumni, employers, and hiring managers letting the next generation of students know what they wish they had known when they were students. Here is one quote from a Notre Dame alumnus that is about coming into an organization as a new employee and trying to change coding methodologies, but really applies to this situation (emphasis mine):

"One thing I have found with several recent grads is a tendency to go back to they way this or that professor/class did things. Whether right or wrong, most companies already have procedures (whether formally documented or not) for doing many tasks. Trying to change those procedures quite often isn't a matter of being right or having evidence, but is a matter of persuasion and politics."

Ignoring again that pretty much all of Joe Hice's presented evidence was either demonstrably false, or that he would not release any data justifying his other claims. His greater sin was his failure of persuasion and politics. By all accounts, he tried to shove this logo through over the objections of the faculty, staff, and alumni. Dr. Karla Mastracchio astutely pointed out on the Logogate edition of the Bullimati Podcast that the "apology" was filled with "We" statements that separated the administration from the rest of the university.

She also mentioned later in the podcast (starting at 11:08) that he and was disrespectful to everyone he spoke to in the USF community about this. To quote Dr. Mastracchio, "They go to all the stakeholders and go my way or the highway... when you are so forceful and so rude in meetings because you think you have the backing of the front office and you really don't." This matches what I heard around the USF community, that he didn't care what people had to say, and if anyone fought back, he used what little power he had to circumvent.

The reason Joe Hice's logo failed was not because it was poorly designed, it was because he allegedly exhibited the behavior of a jerk, and appears to think of the students and alumni he serves as "other." When he says "USF Bulls are We", he doesn't mean me, and he doesn't mean you. This is why his comment about USF trying to have fun with the Mean Tweets segment. but people got offended - a clear shot at me - didn't really bother me that much. He was treating other people at the university much worse.

I do have two comments about his comment on the Mean Tweets video:

  1. Since there wasn't any quotes from USF students or alumni tweets in the video, then it wasn't "USF" having fun, was it? It was "you" having fun, not us. Your role is the Vice President of Communications for a university, and you bold-faced lied about alumni communications. Why shouldn't the community be offended?
  2. He didn't have to lie!!! While the support for the logo was nowhere near the 60% that he claims, there was a small percentage of students who did like it. The fact that he couldn't even bother to quote them shows how little respect Joe Hice has for the USF community.

The other consequence of Logogate is that the logo has defined USF's reputation within the academic community. Every time I go to a conference and mention I am a USF alumnus, somebody brings it up. I was at the ASEE Conference in Tampa last June, and the soon-to-be defunct logo was a major point of conversation. But the most interesting conversations I've had are with people who worked with him at NC State and Florida. To quote one person I kept in contact with who knew him at Florida, "he really irritated people by claiming his Gator Nation campaign led to a significant increase in donations. Nah, it was the Football and Basketball championships that had a lot more to do with it." By all accounts, he wore out his welcome at both places, just like he has at USF. He allegedly acted disrespectfully towards people, just like he has allegedly done so here at USF.

Again, I'm not seeking these conversations out. People seem to find me. I didn't want this. I just called BS when I saw it.

The last thing I'd like to say is this: I'm not going to call for Joe Hice to be fired, but I am going to point out is that we should not be so casual and flippant about the $2 million that the university lost as the result of this catastrophe of persuasion and politics. The university spent $2 million disrespecting the entire USF community. The university spent $2 million acting as though the USF community was stupid. The university spent $2 million lying to the university in "Mean Tweets" videos. They spent our money telling us that USF alumni and fans are not part of "we." Think about how rude and disrespectful that is.

Bear in mind, 40% of students who attend USF are on Pell Grants, which means USF serves a community that is fighting to build a better life for themselves and their families. One year of in-state tuition is $6,410, and living on campus is $23,446. You could put 21 students in need through 4 years of college with the money we wasted on this logo. We are missing at least 21 brothers and sisters among our student body and eventually our alumni because of this logo debacle.

If costing 21 people in need an education doesn't bother you, Mr. Hice, then perhaps you should leave and let someone who actually cares about the people they purport to serve take your place. You don't have to be here or any other university.

Go somewhere else. Somewhere that values ambition over tradition.

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