RICHMOND, Va. -- Former Virginia Governor and Richmond Mayor Doug Wilder told the VCU Board of Visitors on Friday that he was threatened by a fellow faculty member and concerned the university dragged its feet in response.
Wilder, 91, presented some 50 pages of internal communications to the attendees laying out a dispute involving fellow professor Dr. Jim Burke.
Those pages included text messages Wilder, who became the nation's first elected Black governor in 1990 and was later the namesake of VCU's school of government said he received from Burke following the election of Governor Glenn Youngkin (R - Virginia).
At the time, Wilder, who was a Democrat when he was an elected politician, was helping Youngkin by serving on the Republican’s transition team. According to Wilder, that set off a series of texts from Burke who was unhappy with the incoming administration.
"He said that I needed to watch myself or I would find myself in a bad place," Wilder said of the messages.
The alleged texts from Burke included statements such as:
“Welcome to the Nazis,” and “WTF. Is this what you wanted, Doug? I can’t believe you fell for it. You f***** up badly.”
According to the emails obtained by CBS 6, VCU’s Wilder School Dean, Susan Gooden, sought to terminate Burke beginning in February but was met with red tape.
“The dean of a school doesn’t have the authority to dismiss anyone if she happens to be Black. Am I talking about racism? Yes, I am,” Wilder said in the public comments portion of the Board of Visitors meeting on Friday.
The emails also included what appeared to be a Preliminary Protection Order filed by Dean Gooden who told university administrators she feared how Burke might respond to his dismissal.
Months after the incident, Burke's employment status is unclear. He remains listed on the Wilder School's website. He has not yet responded to a request for a comment on the situation.
When asked for an explanation of what happened with Burke and if he remained on staff, officials at VCU responded:
“It would be inappropriate for the university to comment on internal, confidential personnel matters. In such matters, the university adheres to its policies and procedures.”
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