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WSU admits mistakes in provost hiring process

SEATTLE – Washington State University President Elson Floyd has admitted the university made a major mistake by not independently checking Steven Hoch’s references when it hired him for the provost’s job in May.

In choosing Hoch for the $300,000-a-year job, Floyd told the Seattle Times Friday, “We missed quite a bit, unfortunately.”

Floyd says a consultant did all the reference checks, without the search committee or the Pullman university doing any independent verification.

Meanwhile in a separate interview with the newspaper Friday, Hoch said he was the victim of an employment “bait and switch,” saying he got the title of provost but not the authority he needed.

E-mails provided by Hoch showed there was a deep rift between himself and Floyd, and that rift came six weeks before Hoch started his job.

“I would not have applied for the position, nor in fact accepted the position, had it been something other than chief operating officer of the university,” Hoch said.

Floyd announced Oct. 10 that Hoch wouldn’t return as provost, but as a history professor. He will step down as provost Oct. 31 and take a tenured faculty position in the department of history on Nov 1.

Floyd said the university’s plan was always to have Hoch increase his responsibilities and his role during a four-year period. He said a job description given to Hoch outlined exactly which administrators were answerable to him.

Hoch has been on paid leave since Sept. 23.

Floyd was asked if, given all the acrimony, it was tenable for Hoch to return. He answered:

“I guess at this point, it’s his decision. He’s made a lot of disparaging comments about a lot of individuals, including me, and that is the environment into which he will return.”


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