MSSU removes Hanrahan as Chart adviser

Chart adviser and journalism instructor T.R. Hanrahan has been notified by University officials that he will not be retained for the 2011-2012 school year after five years on the job.

Dr. Jay Moorman, communications department head, said he couldn’t comment on Hanrahan’s dismissal because it was a personnel matter.

“The Chart has a long history of investigative journalism that will continue in the future,” Moorman told the newspaper.  

The news has attracted national attention.

The Arlington, Va.-based Student Press Law Center, a national advocate for student First Amendment rights, posted a news story April 26 on Hanrahan’s firing.

Local news blog The Turner Report, run by Joplin East Middle School communication arts teacher Randy Turner, has also covered the firing extensively.

“Hanrahan never backed down from his belief that a reporter’s job is to seek the truth,” Turner wrote on the post announcing Hanrahan’s firing. “Not once did he tell the young people under his charge to back off a story because it dealt with a sensitive subject. He never took the easy route. Had he done so, he might still have a job.”

A Facebook event group called  “Solidarity for Thom R. Hanrahan” had 105 members as of Thursday morning. The group is planning a show of solidarity for Hanrahan.

“This event is meant to be a peaceful gathering and not necessarily a protest, per se,” the group description says. “We want to make this about T.R. and not a vendetta against the school’s administration. This event should remain a fun and positive way to gather and show both President Speck and the Board of Governors how many people appreciate T.R.”

The group plans to gather at 11:45 p.m. May 6 outside Webster Hall and march to the Oval at noon.

Hanrahan said he first suspected something was up earlier this month when he opened the fall schedule book and noticed his name was not listed for the classes he normally teaches.

“I found out April 21 when my boss told me that the University wanted to make a change,” Hanrahan said.

“I’m not surprised, but of course I’m disappointed,” he said. “I’m only human.”

Hanrahan said he was told the University wanted to go in a different direction.

“That’s their prerogative,” Hanrahan said. “I’ve always been loyal to MIssouri Southern and I will continue to be loyal to Missouri Southern. My son is a graduate and I went to school here so I wish the department of communication and the University nothing but the best going forward.”

Hanrahan said he will remain on the job for several more weeks.

“My boss told me that he needs me until July 15 in order to finish some ongoing projects and prepare the publications area for my successor.”