One of my favorite emails obtained through a public records request was sent by Provost David Rosowsky to President Thomas Sullivan of UVM in Spring 2017. Why one of my favorites? Because the Provost, who is known among insiders to not get along at all with the President, actually appears to have misled the Prez!
Upon getting wind of the Seven Days article about my fight to keep my job written by Molly Walsh, who broke the story (and was subsequently read all across campus as the paper is free and very popular), the Prez reached out to the Provost to get briefed on my “background, record, reviews of [my] work”. This in an email sent to Provost David Rosowsky (see above). As you can see in the address field above, the email was sent on March 19, 2017 in the middle of my last semester teaching. The time stamp is 12:34 p.m.
Now, the reply from Provost Rosowsky, written at 1:27 p.m. that same afternoon, is revealing in that he actually mischaracterizes the vote outcome, and then omits one of the most important details! Let’s take a look. In the reply email presented below (and obtained pursuant to a VT public records request), Provost Rosowsky writes to President Tom Sullivan following the Prez’s request to “brief me”, noting the following (hedging with the words, “here is all I know”):
This is the article I sent last week. As I understand it, this is deep in the grievance process (late-stage) and is being managed by Jim Vigoreaux, Mary Brodsky, and OGC.
I will ask Jim to provide a timeline and background. But here is all I know: department voted unanimously against renewal, dean agreed. I will ask Jim and team to get a timeline/summary to the two of us as soon as possible.
While rather innocuous appearing, was this all he knew at the time? As the top brass try to get an early read on my fight back and why I am conducting such a campaign in the first place, the Provost incorrectly says to the Prez, “the department voted unanimously against renewal” (not true) and then omits the most important fact about what happened. Provost Rosowsky writes that the “dean agreed,” with the vote, which is true. But the problem here is that the Faculty Standards Committee (FSC) first reviewed the department’s not unanimous vote and then did its own vote after reviewing all the same evidence (more on this below). No mention of this.
What did Provost Rosowsky really know when he emailed the Prez?
The FSC vote, which the Provost failed to report in his briefing to the President, actually was unanimous to reappoint me, while noting I had “met the standard for reappointment.” About this we now know more after two days of hearings at the Vermont Labor Relations Board. Members of the FSC members privately all believed that the Chair of the department, who led the review of my teaching, was “out to get” me (according to one member on the committee), and who called me to try to help me by offering to testify, which I reported under oath and which was admitted into evidence over objections by UVM’s lawyers.
Back to what the Provost might have known, he writes in his first briefing to the Prez: “this is the article I sent last week” referring to the Seven Days article about me. He sent it the week before? So had the Provost read it? Maybe he forgot? [Provost base salary =$408,721 in 2017-18; median Provost salaries = about $135,000; he gets paid too much to forget, I would expect]. For all salaries paid at UVM see this search tool.
In that article, the journalist Molly Walsh noted the FSC vote that went in my favor, but the Provost never shares that with the Prez. An oversight? Inconvenient thought conveniently forgotten? Who knows. Everybody was talking privately about the FSC, as other emails I obtained pursuant to my public records request show. But the Prez’s initial briefing by the Provost omits this key material fact at a late stage in the grievance process – that the FSC stuck it to the department with the 5-0 vote for my reappointment. And that is a fact! Provost didn’t know this? Right. Hard to believe. So why no mention to the Prez? Downplay what was a big cause for concern, as was revealed elsewhere?
I will have more posts later on the hearing and the lies exposed, plus the treachery and manipulation of department members by several peers to influence the vote against me, all proven under oath in front of cameras. It was quite a thing to witness.
PS, see Provost Rosowsky email below. And the fully redacted email that followed. I wonder what is in that?