After discovery of ‘discriminatory’ email, Miller Center Governing Council member resigns

The email made insulting remarks about women working at the Center

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Miller Center Governing Council member Fred Scott resigned last Friday after leadership learned of an email he sent last May.

Christina Anton | Cavalier Daily

A member of the Governing Council of U.Va.’s Miller Center resigned last Friday after the Center’s leadership became aware of a discriminatory email insulting female employees.

Fred Scott — a retired cattleman appointed to the Center’s overseeing board in 2014, according to his now-deleted biography on the Center’s website — offered to take several female Miller Center employees on an expenses-paid “luxury shopping trip” to thank them for their work, offending several of the email’s recipients. The incident was dubbed “shoegate,” POLITICO detailed in a report published Tuesday evening. 

Afterwards, POLITICO reported Scott publicly apologized to the staff, but then sent an email to former Governing Council Chair Gene Fife on May 3, 2017, “expressing his confusion” over the staff’s response to his invitation.

In his email to Fife, Scott wrote that “women don't like to be put into groups. They group up all the time, but these are their own voluntary groups. Lunch, coffee, Children, etc. No men allowed in,” POLITICO reported. 

“Some people just like to stir up trouble then melt into the background and watch,” the email read, according to POLITICO. “If we have such a person, they may not be the best choice to promote."

Miller Center Communications Director Howard Witt said the 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 Miller Center Staff members.”

Scott — the familial namesake of Scott Stadium — said it wasn’t as big a deal as some had made it seem.

“It’s hardly news in the scale of things,” Scott told The Cavalier Daily in an interview. “I have immense and full respect for and lifelong respect to the Miller Center of Public Affairs, it’s a lovely institution. Nothing but support for the organization.”

“I shouldn’t have said that,” Scott said about his email to Fife.

Fife did not return a request for comment from The Cavalier Daily. 

The Center’s leadership was unaware of the email to Fife until Tuesday of last week, Witt said, when a Freedom of Information Act request from POLITICO brought it to their attention. When they discussed the email’s contents with Scott, he immediately offered his resignation.

The Cavalier Daily has also filed a request for the email’s contents.

After Scott invited the female employees on the shopping trip, Witt said the University’s Office for Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights held a series of staff training sessions for Miller Center employees surrounding implicit bias and sexual harassment awareness and reporting. The Governing Council also approved a new code of conduct this January, which forbids harassment or discrimination.

“The Miller Center strives to maintain a workplace that is free from discrimination, harassment, and retaliation,” the statement reads. “The Center is committed to addressing and properly reporting any incidents or allegations that might arise, consistent with UVA policies.”

POLITICO also reported that Scott is the third Miller Center Governing Council member to leave the board in the past year following misconduct allegations.

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