In his 12-year career as the flack-in-chief for Vanderbilt University, Michael Schoenfeld kissed a lot of asses, many of whom paid their farewell respects to him at an event at the school last night. The goodbye gala, one of approximately 56 since Schoenfeld announced his departure in February, featured the usual list of nebulous schmoozers, along with a fairly impressive gaggle of notables in politics, media and law. The last two mayors, Karl Dean and Bill Purcell, were in attendance, although I missed Purcell and would have missed Dean had I not ventured into the tiny area of the ballroom that he occupied quietly. Also there were former Tennessean
editor and publisher John Seigenthaler, USA Today
editor Ken Paulson and Tennessean
publisher Ellen Leifeld. Some of the top lawyers I spotted were Lee Barfield, Paul Ney, Keith Simmons, Byron Trauger and his wife U.S District Judge Aleta Trauger. Pith's own Bruce Barry was in attendance rocking a ratty pair of jeans and a gray sweatshirt—his standard uniform—as was former Scene
hitman John Spragens, who now toils for Rep. Jim Cooper and probably was the best-looking guy in the room. (Which I don't say as a compliment to Spragens.) ACLU honcho Hedy Weinberg and Hillsboro Village activist and attorney Jayne Gordon rounded out the guest list. Incredibly, I didn't spy Lucius Carroll.
New Vanderbilt Chancellor Nick Zeppos, still sporting an "I can't believe they picked me" grin, said a few nice things about how great Schoenfeld is. Schoenfeld, in turn, said a few nice things about the greatness of Vanderbilt, which apparently isn't great enough to keep Schoenfeld away from Duke, where he'll work as the school's vice president for public affairs and government relations. The next time a Duke Lacrosse player is accused of raping a stripper, you'll probably see Schoenfeld on CNN spinning the story in his employer's favor.
Mike, we'll miss you and your expense account. But we're looking forward to ridiculing Vanderbilt again. If only the Gees were still in power.