A high-ranking UCF administrator who was terminated by the university in October had received positive performance evaluations since the beginning of his employment with the university.
Briant Coleman served as the associate vice president for strategic initiatives, communication and marketing until a university investigation found he violated the UCF Employee Code of Conduct and its ethical standards when he “engaged in threatening, intimidating, and bullying behavior in the workplace,” the Oct. 14 investigation findings read.
“Dr. Coleman has demonstrated a pattern of misconduct against employees for years … Dr. Coleman is unlikely to correct his behavior,” the recommendations of the University Compliance, Ethics and Risk Office report reads.
In 2016, Grant Heston, chief of staff and vice president for Communications and Marketing — who submitted his resignation as chief of staff on Friday, but will remain as the vice president for Communications and Marketing — served as Coleman’s immediate supervisor and department head.
Heston wrote Coleman’s performance appraisal that year, describing Coleman’s service as “another strong year” and “valuable.”
“Briant is seen as a valuable partner by his peers, and they seek him out for advice about how to work together to enhance UCF,” Heston wrote in his evaluations. “I encourage him to continue working with his Communications and Marketing peers to develop projects that benefit the entire university.”
In a phone interview with Knight News, Coleman denies the allegations against him and points to his evaluations as supporting evidence of his claims.
“My leadership style fits the university and it is probably one of the best leadership styles you will encounter,” Coleman said. “For the last four and a half years, I received outstanding evaluations …”
Since 2015, Coleman was evaluated at “above satisfactory” in both written and spoken communication, according to his performance evaluations. He also received “above satisfactory” since 2015 and 2017 in leadership and an evaluation of “outstanding” in 2016.
Of the many terms used to describe an employee’s evaluation appraisal, UCF describes “above satisfactory” as “encourages, cohesive, consistent, and excels,” while the “outstanding” term is defined as “exemplary, exceptional, leadership, and the highest standard of excellence.”
Coleman was relieved from his position after 30 of 40 interviewed workers testified to hearing, receiving, or witnessing “threatening, intimidating, and bullying behavior” from Coleman during an investigation, according to the report.
The report cites the reporting dates of employees contacting UCER, the Human Resources office or the Office of Institutional Equity between February and May.
Coleman — who said he was the highest ranking African American male at the university and is also openly gay — said he believes his termination was the result of a discrimination during a phone interview with Knight News.
Coleman was not alone in suspecting discrimination.
On March 25, UCF investigators discussed the allegations against Coleman with Provost Elizabeth Dooley.
Dooley said during the investigation that she believed the allegations against Coleman “were likely made by a particular group of individuals and could be racially and/or homophobic,” according to the report.
Knight News reached out to UCF spokesman Chad Binette through email on Friday to clarify Dooley’s initial statement of the allegations made during the investigation. Binette thanked Knight News for reaching out but said “Provost Dooley does not comment on personnel matters.”
Public records show Coleman had received no negative remarks in his performance appraisals since the beginning of his employment with the university in September 2015.
The records directly contradict the statements made in the recommendations section of the investigation — noting Coleman had demonstrated this behavior for years.
The performance appraisals contrast the account of the investigation’s findings, which said that 18 of the 30 individuals interviewed were on the receiving end of the alleged hostile behavior.
Despite a “demonstrated a pattern of misconduct against employees for years,” Coleman never received less than a “above satisfactory” rating on his annual performance evaluations.
The report highlighted multiple instances in which workers were in tears after an interaction with Coleman.
One reported instance involved Coleman yelling at a colleague and calling him or her a racist.
According to the report, a witness to the incident said they were “stunned at the way he was talking to his or her colleague.” Additionally, a separate witness said the colleague was unable to get words out and was sobbing after the interaction.
“If these allegations were so egregious then why not just address the employee when you first heard about them,” Coleman said regarding the allegations. “They didn’t because they were all made up, and they kept going back and back trying to manufacture the case.”
Coleman maintains the allegations against him are manufactured and said he is exploring legal options.
Knight News Reporter Megan Turner contributed to this article.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.