Salisbury University has been no stranger to goodbyes this year.
From the announcement of Dudley-Eshbach stepping down to the dean of the Honors College switching schools, the student population has seen a fair share of big departures.
SU has quietly added another to that list after Chair of the Communications Arts (CMAT) Department Dr. Bryan Horikami took an unexpected leave of absence from the university.
While Horikami began the semester at SU, rumors began to swirl regarding his status at the university weeks ago. A very active member of the SU community seemed to no longer be on campus.
It was then confirmed when the university made an adjustment to the CMAT faculty listing, removing Horikami as chair and now placing Dr. Lori DeWitt as the chair of the department.
“I was actually slated to take over the chair position this summer, we rotate chair positions because nobody should get stuck with this forever,” DeWitt said. “I was preparing to step up into that role starting July 1, this just moved it up a little earlier.”
DeWitt has also taken over his sole class this semester in an attempt to assure that this change does not affect students negatively. Due to his position as chair of the department, Horikami was only teaching one senior seminar course this semester which DeWitt has taught in the past as well.
As the rumors began to surface, the reasoning behind the leave came into question. Some settled on the belief that Horikami was asked to leave, while others cited a discord between him and university officials.
But DeWitt knows that the choice was 100 percent personal.
“It was absolutely his choice, that I have been assured of,” DeWitt said. “So any rumors about him being asked to not be here or something like that, no. It was a personal choice.”
DeWitt also disputes the claim that disagreements with the university led to his departure, claiming she had never heard that idea from him or others in the department.
After Horikami informed the university of his decision, he also reached out to some of his colleagues through a message to briefly explain the situation.
“He sent us a message through one of our colleagues that just kind of said that he was okay and that he still wanted to be in contact with us personally,” DeWitt said. “He just was kind of reassuring us that he was taking some time to figure out his next steps.”
The question now turns to his status with the university, and while he is no longer listed as the chair, Horikami is still named under the CMAT directory as an associate professor. While there has been no formal statement from the university, DeWitt has been given no information that leads her to believe this is not temporary.
On the other hand, there has been no statement from Horikami whether this move is temporary or permanent. The Flyer attempted to get in contact with Dr. Horikami for a comment, but did not receive a reponse.
Horikami joined SU in 1996 as a faculty member in Communication and Theatre Arts, while also holding the position of advising services coordinator throughout his years here. Having been here for over 20 years now, and spending most of them in the CMAT department, the loss could be a big one for the department if it becomes permanent.
By CHASE GORSKI
Featured photo: Fulton Hall, where a majority of the Communication Arts Department is housed (Salisbury University image).