A member of the UVA Miller Center’s Governing Council resigned Tuesday after a report by POLITICO revealed that the member — Fred W. Scott Jr. — sent a discriminatory email demeaning his female colleagues.
Scott — whose family is the namesake of the university’s football stadium — stated that women at the Miller Center “don’t like to be put into groups” unless “Lunch, coffee, Children, etc.” are involved. The email was sent to the former council chairman approximately one year ago.
Scott began serving on the council in 2014. His resignation went into effect immediately.
When WUVA News reached out to the Miller Center for comment, Communications Director Howard Witt provided the below statement.
MILLER CENTER GOVERNING COUNCIL MEMBER RESIGNS
Leadership emphasizes its commitment to harassment-free workplace
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA — The Miller Center of Public Affairs, a nonprofit, nonpartisan affiliate of the University of Virginia, announced today that a member of its Governing Council had resigned.
Fred Scott, a member of the Council since 2014, resigned his position effective immediately. The Governing Council expressed its thanks to Scott for his many years of support and service to the Miller Center.
The Miller Center strives to maintain a workplace that is free from discrimination, harassment and retaliation. The Center is committed to addressing and properly reporting any incidents or allegations that might arise, consistent with by UVA policies and reporting requirements.
In April, 2017, Scott offered to certain female members of the Miller Center staff an opportunity to go on a luxury shopping expedition, which he offered to pay for as a show of appreciation for their work and in celebration of the 102d birthday of his mother, a longtime Miller Center benefactor. Several of the recipients of this offer took offense.
Miller Center leaders responded to the offense taken by some staff members by promptly addressing the matter. Scott in turn issued an apology to the staff.
On May 3, 2017, Scott sent an email about his apology to the then-chair of the Governing Council, Gene Fife, expressing his confusion over what he perceived to be misunderstanding of his shopping invitation. The Miller Center’s leadership was unaware of the existence of this email until the evening of August 28, 2018.
The Miller Center strongly objects to the content and sentiments expressed in this email, including discriminatory and offensive language as well as any suggestions of potential retaliation against any Miller Center staff members.
Immediately upon learning of this email, Miller Center leadership initiated an internal investigation and consultation with Governing Council members, which led to Scott’s resignation.
Miller Center leadership discussed the email and the offensive nature of its content with Scott on the morning of August 31. Scott immediately offered to resign his membership on the Governing Council.
Separately, two incidents involving allegations of improper conduct by two Governing Council members occurred at an October, 2017 Governing Council dinner. Upon learning of the incidents, Miller Center leadership promptly reported them to the University’s Title IX administrator.
Neither resulted in a formal investigation by the University’s Title IX office.
In light of the incidents, Fife sought and received the resignation of one of the Governing Council members involved. The Governing Council elected to allow the term of the other Governing Council member to expire as scheduled in June, 2018.
In response to these incidents, Miller Center leadership launched a series of staff training sessions around issues of sexual harassment awareness and reporting and unconscious bias. The training was led by leaders of the University’s Office for Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights.
In addition, the Governing Council approved a “Code of Conduct” at its January, 2018 meeting. That policy stresses the Miller Center’s opposition to discrimination and harassment and instructs Governing Council members not to discriminate against, harass, or exert authority or undue influence over Center and Miller Center Foundation staff or faculty. The Code of Conduct recognizes the role and responsibility of the Governing Council to investigate and act on complaints involving member misconduct, and to adhere to the University of Virginia’s Policy on Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment and Other Forms of Interpersonal Violence.
Governing Council members also participated in mandatory Title IX training at their meeting in April, 2018. Policies to understand and report harassment will be made available to Governing Council members annually and during new-member orientation.