Sick, toxic, dysfunctional; WUCF staff shake more than they seem

To the outside world, Phil hoffman said on social media that he was quitting his $ 194,662 per year job as executive director of WUCF due to family responsibilities and the pandemic.

But public documents show Hoffman quit under pressure as he faced an academic investigation and a litany of complaints from employees of the Orlando PBS affiliate.

“The last five years have been hell with Phil. I have never witnessed so much abuse, mismanagement, ”said the director of WUCF 89.9 FM. Kayonne Rileyafter speaking to a Title IX investigator in July, according to documents released by the University of Central Florida. “If this is not resolved, I will retire; I can not stand it anymore. I love UCF, but I cannot continue working for it. It has become a sick, toxic and dysfunctional place.

Employees described Hoffman as a sexist, ageist bully with a quick and unpredictable temper, according to their statements, memos and other documents released by the university.

“The preliminary information was shared with the WUCF leadership who decided to discuss the concerns directly with PH, which resulted in his resignation,” a document said.

When contacted for comment on Monday, Hoffman denied the allegations and said he was not aware of employee comments. He said he felt blinded to learn about them from a journalist’s public registration application instead of the university directly.

“I am shocked and disappointed that some of these comments are just plain wrong, while others lack important detail and context, and they are all absolutely contrary to my character and leadership,” Hoffman said in a statement. communicated. “Whenever culture came up, we would talk about what we wanted to do to improve it. I am disappointed and upset that someone said he felt this way.

Some employees complained that Hoffman demoted older employees. He has filed humiliating complaints, such as saying they should replace their receptionist in their 60s with a younger, more beautiful person, according to UCF statements and employee notes.

WUCF employees said they were afraid to report Hoffman to the university for fear of reprisal. Some employees quit rather than work longer with Hoffman. Others have been made redundant.

An employee, Jonathon AdlerHoffman called “abusive” in a July statement to the UCF Title IX investigator.

“It’s a lot of bipolar behavior and no confidence,” Adler said. “When he sends an email, he uses all capital letters to say ‘FALSE’ and really highlight a person’s problem. When speaking he uses that saving tone, for example when he said, “I prioritize… your team doesn’t matter… my success is the reason we’re here” when he was writing a press release about himself. “

Jennifer cook said that working with Hoffman was like being in an abusive relationship where there were times she got along well with him and other times he yelled at her, like when he “went crazy” after that she used a highlighter that was not the one in the PBS color scheme.

“For two or three years, the dynamic has been more toxic, abusive and personal. He told me things that went overboard. Looking back, I think I should have asked for help sooner. I’m finally realizing it’s happening to others and not just me, ”Cook wrote in his July statement to a Title IX investigator.

She recalled Hoffman encouraging her co-workers to speak to an employee who was struggling with her weight about a work-related issue. “Go see her,” Hoffman told them, adding. “You can’t miss it.”

Hoffman said Monday the comment was not intended to insult the employee. “She was literally the only one in this hallway.”

The university received complaints about Hoffman’s behavior and leadership and began talking with employees about what it was like to work at WUCF. In August, Hoffman announced his resignation.

Hoffman did not receive a buyback, but according to UCF standard practice, he received his accumulated leave pay worth 480 hours, for a total of $ 44,750, the spokesperson for UCF, Mark Schlueb.

“I left UCF because of a larger dysfunctional culture and a desire that I really needed to return home to see my family after the pandemic,” Hoffman said in his statement Monday. “I hadn’t seen people for months. I continue to wish the resort and the team members the best. They are amazing and they are a talented group of professionals. Although I am extremely sad today, I will always be proud of what we have done together.

With Hoffman gone, the university is still trying to better understand the struggling department so that it can make changes for the future.

UCF is spending $ 11,250 to hire an outside company to conduct a cultural and climate survey.

“We are working to create an inclusive culture at WUCF that encourages and empowers employees. Recently, we started working with a third party to assess employee feelings and collect their feedback in order to develop a plan to move forward, ”Schlueb said in a statement Monday.

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