Embattled VQR Editor Resigns

Virginia Quarterly Review editor Ted Genoways has resigned from his position, effective May 31. Genoways’ increasingly erratic and nasty behavior towards his employees culminated in the 2010 suicide of one employee, managing editor, Kevin Morrissey, and the rest of the employees quitting. (Including me.) A subsequent investigation by the university found Genoways lacked the capacity to supervise employees, demanded that his inappropriate financial practices be ended, and called for an investigation—which apparently has not happened—into his use of university funds to publish his own book of poetry. The university’s response to their own investigation was not to fire Genoways, but to retain him. For more backstory, see Dave McNair’s series of stories in The Hook from over the past couple of years.

After Genoways took over as editor, the 87-year-old’s publication’s focus gradually narrowed, being written for an audience of Genoways’ fellow National Magazine Awards judges, until every issue was dedicated to wars and various types of misery. Circulation shrank accordingly; the most recent published numbers indicate just over 1,700 subscribers (or two days of unique visitors to cvillenews.com).

Genoways is on a five-year contract that doesn’t expire for another couple of years, so presumably the university has bought out the remainder of his contract in exchange for his departure. UVA is left to rebuild the publication, and has gradually hired employees to take over the publication, including a new Web Editor—my old position—who starts June 1, the day after Genoways’ departure. With Genoways leaving, I wish them the very best of luck in their efforts to return the magazine to a viable state. Genoways’ house was on the market for a very brief period in March and, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, is scheduled for a closing very soon. I gather he and his family are moving back to his home state of Nebraska.

For the record, here’s how things ended for VQR’s remaining employees. Associate Editor Molly Minturn is now the Managing Editor of Arts & Sciences Magazine. Circulation Manager Sheila McMillen settled with the university under undisclosed terms, and was given early retirement. I went on to work for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, though as of last month I have a fellowship with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Intern/donor-turned-employee Alana Levinson-Labrosse has changed her name and moved to Iraq. Genoways has been pushed out of his job—and town—and is moving back home to Nebraska, to spend more time with his writing.

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