November 22, 2010 Leave a comment
Excerpts from an article by The Chronicle of Higher Education about the suicide of Kevin Morrissey (pictured below), the managing editor of the Virginia Quarterly Review, who was allegedly bullied by his boss. See: http://chronicle.com/article/UVa-Audit-Finds-Questionable/125034/ for the full article.
UVA Finds ‘Questionable’ Management by Journal Editor
By Robin Wilson
An audit of The Virginia Quarterly Review released on Wednesday by the University of Virginia says that Ted Genoways, the respected journal’s editor, had “questionable” managerial skills and had spent magazine money without approval to publish a book of his own poetry. But the audit report stops short of saying that Mr. Genoways was guilty of workplace bullying, which some journal staff members have said contributed to the suicide last summer of the magazine’s managing editor, Kevin Morrissey.
The internal investigation, which was commissioned in August by the university’s new president, Teresa A. Sullivan, also found that while UVa should streamline its procedures for dealing with employee complaints, the university did take “appropriate actions” in dealing with complaints from members of the journal’s staff about Mr. Genoways. “Because some individuals were not aware of all that was going on,” says the eight-page report, “they incorrectly concluded that things were not being done.”
But the report says that, by his own admission, Mr. Genoways’s “capacity to supervise and lead his staff well and to operate his department in accordance with university policies is questionable.” And it recommends that the university establish a panel “to strengthen the institution’s policies and structure with regards to acceptable workplace conduct,” something the university has agreed to do.
Mr. Genoways came to Virginia as editor of VQR in 2003 and brought Mr. Morrissey in as his deputy. By all accounts, the two were quite close until about a year ago, when Mr. Genoways hired Alana Levinson-LaBrosse, a young UVA graduate and donor, to help raise money for the magazine. Mr. Morrissey, who had suffered from serious depression for which he had taken medication, felt he was being pushed aside, say those close to the magazine. In the months before Mr. Morrissey took his life, people close to the magazine say, Mr. Genoways barely communicated with Mr. Morrissey and other members of the journal’s small staff and shirked his duties, frequently working from home instead of from the VQR offices…. In a letter that Mr. Genoways sent to contributors and others after Mr. Morrissey’s death, he said it was Mr. Morrissey who had been distancing himself—and he blamed the behavior on Mr. Morrissey’s depression.
Last July, after becoming angry about an exchange that Mr. Morrissey and another staff member had with Ms. Levinson-LaBrosse that had upset her, Mr. Genoways banished Mr. Morrissey to work from home. Mr. Morrissey, worried that he might lose his job, made 17 calls to the university’s human-resources department, the president’s office, and university officials responsible for employee assistance and faculty-staff relations, said his sister. Other staff members also complained to university officials about Mr. Genoways, say those close to the magazine, and told UVa administrators they worried that Mr. Morrissey was so distraught he might kill himself. In late July, Mr. Morrissey shot himself in the head, leaving a note that said: “I just couldn’t bear it anymore.”
… Although the report did not find fault with the university itself, it said the institution’s way of dealing with complaints from employees should be re-evaluated. Under the management response, President Sullivan wrote that a new structure will be established for complaints to be taken, registered, and tracked—and for them to be investigated and have the findings reported.