Presenter’s Office adviser resigns

After six years of employment with the U, the woman behind the Presenter’s Office, Jenny Thomas, resigned Wednesday amid some controversy regarding the function of one of the university’s largest programming bodies.

Alex Lowe, president of the Associated Students of the University of Utah, said he made the “tough decision” after considering several issues and speaking with advisers.

“It was a situation that was not beneficial,” he said.

Lowe said there were three reasons for making the changes.

First, he said it was important to make sure the Presenter’s Office was student-driven.

Second, he said a restructuring would alleviate a division that has restricted collaboration between ASUU and the Presenter’s Office. Lowe said that employees have approached him about the tension between the two groups.

Third, Lowe said the measures would make sure his administration was accountable with “sacred” student fees.

“There’s a lot of money being spent in these areas, and we want to make sure we’re getting what we want out of what we pay for,” he said.

There is also a chance that Marketing Adviser Lance Duffin’s position could be affected in the restructuring process, according to Lowe. Duffin refused to comment on the matter, and Thomas could not be reached.

The changes are not the first ones made to tailor the Presenter’s Office to something more in line with ASUU leaders’ visions.

The role of the office has morphed since its creation in 1997, with the biggest changes put into effect just last year.

Thomas and Duffin, formerly directors, became advisers, while ASUU created a student position on its executive cabinet to oversee the Presenter’s Office. Leaders passed legislation that took 20 percent of the $539,000 annual budget from Thomas’s discretion and gave it to the student-elected president and vice president.

But those who have worked under Thomas and Duffin for the past few years are frustrated with the new plans. They said they neither had the contacts nor the capability to do the work that Thomas and Duffin, salaried professionals, have done.

“The decision really hinders the progress of our office and reminds us that the office is really run by Bobby [Harrington] and Alex [Lowe],” said Brian Ray, Free Film Board chairperson.

“We just lost one of our biggest assets,” said Brooke Behunin, former Performing Arts Board chairperson and page designer for The Daily Utah Chronicle.

Others said they were not allowed to give any input on the matter.

“There’s nothing we can do about it,” said Bryce Garner, Free Film vice chairperson.

Currently, Lowe said he does not know the future of the exact structure of the Presenter’s Office, but has worked with Human Resources to determine whether or not both adviser positions are necessary. He mentioned his administration has no clear plan of what to do with any money saved due to pay cuts or consolidations, but said they have considered reducing student fees or allocating the money to other areas of need.

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