UT Chancellor Apologizes for 'Dismissive' Letter to Faculty

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On the same day last month, the Knoxville News-Sentinel reported that University of Tennessee Chancellor Jimmy Cheek had upset some faculty members with a letter regarding domestic partner benefits for same-sex couples, and that a member of the school's Pi Kappa Alpha chapter had ended up in the hospital with a blood alcohol level over .40 percent, reportedly by funneling boxed wine into his ass.

Since we passed those items along, it's only fair now to tell you that today the News-Sentinel reports Cheek is apologizing for the letter, which many faculty members saw as "dismissive."

The letter, co-authored with Agriculture Chancellor Larry Arrington, was a response requested by the faculty to a resolution the Senate drafted in April, supporting education, leave and health benefits for same-sex couples that mirror what is offered to married couples.

"We understand your frustration, and we're sorry the letter may have come across as dismissive. It certainly wasn't intended that way," Cheek said. "We have been and will continue to work with Faculty Senate leadership on this issue."

Cheek said he and Arrington would send a new letter better explaining the university's position "in a couple weeks."

Troublingly, Cheek doesn't seemed to have expressed any contrition about the fact that a fraternity on his campus was serving boxed wine.

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