VTdigger nixes interview with UVM’s Faculty Standards Committee whistleblower.

During an interview that the news outlet VTdigger did with me, in the wake of the ruling by Vermont’s Supreme Court affirming the Vermont Labor Relations Board’s (VLRB) dismissal of my wrongful termination grievance, the reporter asked for evidence to support statements I made in my press release following the high court’s decision. The following statement in my press release led the reporter to investigate my claims about UVM’s department of economics and how I was “targeted” for removal.

“When hundreds of students, a former Dean, and the Faculty Standards Committee at UVM all reach the same conclusion, essentially that I was railroaded out of teaching, and the Court fails to find any fault on the part of UVM, it suddenly became clear to me why the Center for Public Integrity gave Vermont a failing grade when it reviewed the state’s judicial system,” says Summa.  

Neither the statement or the evidence supplied to the reporter ever saw print. This despite the fact that the whistleblower statement was entered into the record in front of the Vermont Labor Relations Board through my narrative testimony, over UVM’s objection, as I had informed the reporter. See my email to the reporter below:

On Fri, Apr 12, 2019 at 9:12 AM John Summa <heterodoxguy@gmail.com> wrote:

Hi Lola,

The whistleblower statement made to me and entered into evidence in sworn testimony by me before the Labor Board (it is in the official transcripts), which was not contradicted factually, can be confirmed by the whistleblower himself. 

The whistleblower has agreed to be interviewed…


PS, the attached Dep’t of Economics Guidelines.pdf is the document cited in the Motion for Leave…UVM tampered with the titled and created an ironic typo (“Guidelies”). The original title is not that, and they never explained why they would make a change.

My statement under oath was based on the FSC member, who came forward to tell me that the entire FSC believed the chair of the Department of Economics was “out to get” me. This shared FSC sentiment was reported to me directly by the FSC whistleblower by phone just ahead of my hearing at the Vermont Labor Relations Board. It was too late to bring the whistleblower in as a witness as the deadline had passed for that. But I was able to enter the statement made to me by the whistleblower through my narrative testimony under oath. Needless to say, the VLRB ignored it.

Following Vtdigger’s questioning of my evidence, I contacted the whistleblower, who agreed to be interviewed by the reporter, and agreed to provide his/her UVM office phone number and times available to do the interview. But the reporter nixed the interview when the whistleblower would not allow the use of his/her name in the article. The reporter, and her editor, said that unless the whistleblower was willing to allow Vtdigger to disclose his/her name in the article, they would not do the interview with the FSC member. As a journalist myself, I knew this was baloney, and I told them the The New York Times and other publications use sources that prefer to remain anonymous, and this is a standard practice. See email from the reporter below:

Lola Duffort <lduffort@vtdigger.org> wrote
to: John Summa <heterodoxguy@gmail.com>

Hi John,
Since I was apparently unclear: I am not going to talk to the whistleblower if I cannot publish his name. I have plenty, thanks.

Again, I agreed to provide the name of the whistleblower to the reporter and contact information allowing them to verify his/her identity so they could confirm the whistleblower was in fact a member of the Faculty Standard Committee (the Committee voted unanimously to reappoint me and concluded I had in fact “met the standard for reappointment”). The whistleblower was fine with this. But the reporter wrote an email to me stating Vtdigger would not do the interview unless the person’s name could be revealed in the article, even though this could subject the whistleblower to UVM retaliation and other possible professional consequences.

Emails from a former Dean also ignored by VTdigger.

As the record shows, in addition to not doing the interview with the whistleblower, VTdigger also refused to quote from emails sent to me (and provided to the reporter upon their request) by a former dean of the College of Arts & Sciences at UVM. The emails from this former dean, who had reviewed the facts of my case, made clear that he/she agreed with my interpretation of the facts surrounding my removal from teaching. In fact, this former dean wrote (and thought) that I had received a “prejudicial” review and that I had been “targeted” by the Department of Economics, particularly its chair. And the dean pointed to cases he/she knew of where decisions made by UVM were arbitrary in matters of reappointments and tenure, implying decisions were based more on cronyism than merit.

Finally, my press release sent to the reporter contained my prepared statements about the high court’s decision, yet the reporter refused to use them. Instead, the reporter selectively lifted one word from the key statement, and thus missed the entire point.