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Embattled U-Va. literary journal goes on hiatus

Updated at 1 p.m. with statement from U-Va.

The University of Virginia's esteemed literary journal has canceled its winter issue and shuttered its offices pending the outcome of an investigation into the suicide of its managing editor, Kevin Morrissey.

Morrissey died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound July 30, at an old coal tower near his Charlottesville home.

Morrissey's siblings and some coworkers contend the 52-year-old managing editor was the victim of a workplace bully: Ted Genoways, 38, editor of the Virginia Quarterly Review. Genoways sent an angry e-mail to Morrissey the morning he died, according to Morrissey's sister.

Genoways and his attorney, Lloyd Snook of Charlottesville, have said there is nothing to support the allegations of bullying. Thirty Review contributors penned a letter in support of Genoways.

Kevin Morrissey, second from right, at a friend's apartment in Charlottesville earlier this year. (Photo by Aja Gabel)

The suicide has resonated in ever-widening circles -- first the close-knit literary establishment, then the broader Charlottesville community and now a growing national audience, transfixed at the thought that a celebrated poet could be cast as a workplace villain. NBC's "Today" picked up the story several days ago.

University officials opted to shut down -- most of the six-person staff had already quit or gone on leave -- pending the outcome of an internal investigation. Although the winter issue has been canceled, the fall issue has gone to press.

"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 last Thursday," said Carol Wood, university spokeswoman. "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."

Teresa A. Sullivan, the new U-Va. president, said in an Aug. 19 statement the suicide had "raised questions about the University's response to employees' concerns about the workplace climate" at the Review.

It doesn't appear that the journal will close for good. Wood said the new president "sees great value" in carrying on. VQR is considered one of the finest literary journals in the nation, with several National Magazine Awards to its credit.

A journal staffer said Tuesday the publication's offices indeed appeared to be "closed for business," but understood the hiatus to be temporary.

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By Daniel de Vise  |  August 31, 2010; 10:36 AM ET
Categories:  Administration  | Tags: Kevin Morrissey, Ted Genoways, UVA suicide, University Virginia suicide, VQR suicide, Virginia Quarterly Review  
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Politics in academia is vicious because there is so little at stake.

Posted by: blasmaic | August 31, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

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