VQR: Genoways in charge, staffers pull names, winter issue canceled
Virginia Quarterly Review staffers were stunned by the news that University officials had allowed editor Ted Genoways, whom they accuse of bullying managing editor Kevin Morrissey before he took his own life on July 30, to take control of the fall issue of the magazine, which was just recently sent to press. In addition, there was also some unsettling news for VQR fans: the winter issue of the magazine has been canceled.
“I never could have forecast that the University would allow us to remain in this situation,” wrote VQR online editor Waldo Jaquith on his blog last Friday.
Indeed, workplace bullying expert Gary Namie says he’s surprised by the University’s decision. Genoways was the recent subject of a Today show feature, during which a VQR staff member called his treatment of Morrissey in the last two weeks of his life “egregious.”
“I would have put Genoways on leave,” says Namie, “just to cool things down.”
Instead, it appears that two staff members have taken leave and the embattled editor is busy putting the fall issue together with UVA spokesperson Carol Wood, who has been ensconced in the VQR office since Morrissey’s death.
“Ted has been involved with editing and proofreading of the fall issue with Carol Wood,” says Genoways’ lawyer Lloyd Snook. “I don't know whether it is actually 'to press' yet–- they were proofing furiously yesterday.”
Wood did not immediately respond for comment on Genoways’ status or her own work on the VQR.
Initially, Jaquith and fellow staffers had vowed to finish the fall issue, for which Morrissey had been serving as interim editor during Genoways’ leave of absence; but now they have removed their names from the online masthead and left the “un-proofed and non-fact checked” issue for Genoways to finish.
According to assistant editor Molly Minturn, on the Monday following Morrissey’s death, UVA officials told her and the remaining staff that they wanted them to “go back and finish the fall issue of the magazine, that it would be part of the grieving process.”
The fall issue was largely Kevin’s work, says Minturn, and they had planned on making the issue a tribute to him.
But Genoways, says Minturn, began taking control of the magazine from a distance, working with designers, taking material out and putting in new material, making the issue his own. According to several sources familiar with the situation, VQR staffers told UVA officials that they would not continue working on the issue as long as Genoways was in charge.
While Jaquith, who resigned just days before Morrissey’s death, will be going on vacation before he starts a new position at the Miller Center, UVA officials granted Minturn and associate editor Sheila McMillen paid leave for the duration of the investigation of VQR’s operations, which was ordered by UVA president Teresa Sullivan last week.
“We came back to finish the issue that Kevin worked so hard on,” says McMillen, “but we’ve had enough.”
As for the decision to cancel the winter issue of VQR, Wood issued this statement:
"The University decided that it was in the best interests of the VQR staff for them to be able to take a much-needed break once the fall issue had been sent to the printer," she said. "That led to a decision to also cancel the winter issue. No firm date has been set when they will return to the office. The goal is to give them the time they feel they need."
Updated 8/31/2010 1:20pm Updated 8/26/2010 8:22pm Updated 8/25/2010 3:52pm
To comment on this story, please go to the Hook’s original story: Tale of Woe: The Death of the VQR’s Kevin Morrissey.