Guest Post — June 18, 2013
Note from Dan: Bob Geraci is an associate professor in the Corcoran Department of History at the University of Virginia.
By Bob Geraci
I liked your June 1 column on Ken Cuccinelli.
It still boggles my mind that no journalist has looked further into the strong possibility that Cuccinelli intervened last spring in an attempt at the University of Virginia to re-hire Michael Mann.
Most people in Virginia don’t even know that Mann had been under close consideration in the spring of 2012 to fill a new endowed chair in environmental change. Mann was selected by the Dept. of Environmental Sciences but was vetoed with no explanation by the dean and the provost. I wrote about this last November. The basics are absolutely factual and easily verifiable.
The most likely reason why this hasn’t been widely reported? Probably because that position was endowed by the vice-rector of the U.Va. board, Mark Kington, and in all likelihood (more likely than any other explanation for what happened last year) this was the main issue (at least one of the main issues) behind the firing of Pres. Teresa Sullivan.
Though I don’t put it past the Board of Visitors to have bullied the dean and provost on their own (obviously with the inspiration of Cuccinelli’s witch-hunt), it’s very hard to believe that Cuccinelli (so stubborn that he’s still trying to reinstate Va.’s anti-sodomy laws in spite of a Supreme Court ruling) did not intervene personally when he found out that Mann might very well be hired back by U.Va. Either way, it’s utterly amazing that most of the world still doesn’t know about this final act in the witch-hunt against him in Virginia.
I have a lot more information on this that I’d be happy to share with you. The local press hasn’t done their job here — maybe you’d like to pursue it. Mann himself (with whom I’ve been in close touch, and who was more than supportive of my article) hasn’t wanted to be the one to have to bring this story more publicity because he knows that his detractors will somehow use it to make him look bad — as if he’s just looking for sympathy (it’s not as if he doesn’t have a good job already). He’d rather have someone else do it.
Papers as distinguished as the Washington Post have pretended that they don’t even see my hypothesis as plausible enough to investigate, whereas it’s pretty clear that what worries them is that it is so plausible that even reporting the Michael Mann incident on its own will enable readers to see its likely relevance to the Sullivan ouster without any extra help. It’s ironic that the more important story (about Mann) has been held hostage to concerns about the less important one (Sullivan).
It would be great if you were to step up to the plate and bring this more publicity — if not investigate further as to whether Cuccinelli’s role was direct or indirect. (I would have done it myself if my position as a U.Va. faculty member didn’t make it more or less impossible to get anyone there to talk to me about this).
It could make a difference in the gubernatorial race, and also would improve the chances of significant board reform at U.Va. by elucidating what happened last year. And of course anything to further expose the global warming denial lobby is a great public service nationally and internationally.