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.

11 thoughts on “Embattled VQR Editor Resigns”

  1. On a personal note, I’d like to say how grateful that I am for how so many people responded to this story over the past year and a half. Until evidence started coming out, largely through the efforts of The Hook, this was a case of he-said/she-said. It was enormously gratifying to see that so many people assumed that I and my coworkers (and dear friends) were being honest in our accounts. I have always tried to be truthful and forthright in all of my dealings, and it was a bit overwhelming at times to see relative strangers presuming what I said in this matter was true, no matter what claims Genoways made. (The most infuriating—the point at which I realized that Genoways is simply a failure of a human being—was when he, through his lawyer, repeatedly and unsubtly implied that the audit of VQR’s finances would reveal that Kevin was stealing from the magazine, and his suicide was because he thought he was about to be caught. That was a disgusting, shameful lie, as of course the audit demonstrated. If there is an afterlife, Genoways will be punished accordingly.)

    Unlike Genoways, I’m from Charlottesville, and I intend to die in Charlottesville. Lying might buy some short-term benefit, but the truth always comes out eventually. When it became clear that he was lying, he decided to skip town. But I’m not going anywhere. On June 1, when Genoways is gone, I’ll crack open a split of champagne and mark the conclusion of an unpleasant chapter in my life.

    Anyhow, to so many of you who stuck up for me and my friends: thank you.

  2. “But I’m not going anywhere. On June 1, when Genoways is gone, I’ll crack open a split of champagne and mark the conclusion of an unpleasant chapter in my life.”

    That’s the Waldo, who I come here and expect. The one whom your audience always learns something about, that something perhaps some of us weren’t aware of before.

    Plus, I’m also a sucker for “where are they now” articles. Nice flavor to the close of this sad affair for you, it had that John Steed like flare from a vintage episode of the “Avengers.”

  3. It’s people like you and the Hook staff Waldo, that we can count on to tell the truth. Thank you, and so glad you’ve decided to make Charlottesville your permanent home.

  4. Waldo, as you can see you’re appreciated and people are crazy about you and what you stand for…..man I honestly think you could run for President. I’ve always believed if you screw over people you in return will get screwed so trust in believe Karma is a B*t*H and Mr. Genoways has a big hairy one heading his way!!!!!!!!! GENOWAYS is so full of CRAP I don’t know how he lives with himself…he is the true meaning of A-HOLE!!!!!

  5. Waldo,

    Crack open not a split but a magnum of champagne, and drink one for me. Or better yet, maybe we could all have a simultaneous toast that Ted’s “legacy” (the real one, not the one in his mind) follows him wherever he goes….followed by another that Kevin is happier wherever he is.

    The fact that Ted would attack Kevin’s reputation after he was no longer here to defend himself is the most telling fact of all as to the true nature of his character, and to this day never ceases to amaze me. He should be ashamed of himself, along with Lloyd Snook.

  6. The Iraq remark is a joke, right?

    There are not many paying jobs for poets, and Genoways’s strip-mining of Staige Blackford’s legacy unfortunately taints those now occupying some of the few positions available nearby. And the list of poets published by the VQR Poetry Series (U. Ga. Press), just makes me queasy, to think of the militant careerism Genoways must have encouraged in those he published. I am talking about, to pick a tiny example from early in his career, a poetry reading where his wife went around the audience lobbying people to give good remarks. Thank goodness the U.Va. English dept. still had some old schoolers who saw no reason to give him a faculty position.

    Staige Blackford was an interesting and genial editor, but the most interesting former VQR editor may have been Charlotte Kohler (1942-1974), from what I read at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlotte_Kohler … or was it at the Hook? For most of her tenure, the school was almost all men. There were some interesting exceptions, but that’s another story…

  7. The rich are different than you and me. Good times in Baghdad for the super elite.

  8. A split? A half bottle?

    You lefties are such party animals.

    The next day you should try driving 6 miles an hour of the speed limit you animal.

  9. You have been a true, true friend to Kevin Morrissey, standing with him when he was alive and standing up for his reputation after his death. In doing so, you have also stood with those who hate deceit and hope for justice. Thank you.

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