A weirdly vague, inconclusive report from the University of Virginia about the Virginia Quarterly Review.

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Oct. 21 2010 6:35 PM

Nothing To See Here

A weirdly vague, inconclusive report from the University of Virginia about the Virginia Quarterly Review.

Read the rest of Emily Bazelon's  series on cyberbullying

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This suggests some of the press accounts about the conflict at VQR relied on wrong information. But which ones? Is it the accusations of bullying that weren't accurate, or something else? The report says only that the university can't "clarify some of the misunderstandings and assumptions." When I asked UVA spokeswoman Carol Wood about this, she said she couldn't respond except to say "I think the report is clear on areas of concern regarding management of employees."

Except, perhaps, for one new detail that reads as embarrassing for Genoways. The audit report talks about "a possible unapproved subvention involving a $2,000 payment by VQR to a publisher to subsidize printing costs for the Editor's poetry." This involves a payment to the University of Georgia Press for a book of Genoways' poetry called Anna, Washing. The press decided to publish the book after it went through anonymous peer review, according to a former editor there. But because poetry books like this one aren't expected to sell enough copies to break even, they're often published with a payment from the author, called a subvention.

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Genoways says that he intended for the subvention to be paid out of an account, established by the UVA president's office at his hiring, to cover costs associated with his research and creative work. He says he showed the university auditor an e-mail chain to establish this. It includes e-mails from Morrissey about the payment, because he was in charge of VQR's finances. In an e-mail dated last March, Morrissey says to Genoways that when the invoice for Anna, Washing and another publication arrived, "you directed me to have UGA Press split the invoices because 'Anna, Washing' was going to be paid out of another (non-VQR) account." Morrissey also sent an e-mail to the press saying that the payment for Genoways' book would come from a University of Virginia account, not VQR.

But in the end, the subvention for Genoways' book was paid out of a VQR account. "I don't know why," Genoways says. It's another question the university has left dangling.

Carol Wood says that "important changes will be made to daily operations and management responsibilities of VQR." Also that the magazine will keep publishing. For now, Genoways, Minturn, and McMillen are all still on staff. (The other two members of VQR's staff of six have left.) Given all the acrimony and recriminations, it's not clear how they're supposed to be colleagues again—McMillen has said that she and Minturn don't want to work with Genoways. And given the vagueness of the audit report, it looks like we'll never have a definitive account of the events leading up to Morrissey's death.

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