No smoky backroom deals with Philip Morris

When The New York Times revealed Virginia Commonwealth University’s secret deal with Richmond-based Philip Morris USA, the story surely sent a shiver through other universities. In exchange for undisclosed millions, VCU agreed not to publish—or even discuss—research without the company’s approval.

In the story, Senior Vice President Rick Solona said that Philip Morris had similar arrangements with other universities. He didn’t, however, name any other names.

UVA spokesperson Carol Wood says that UVA isn’t one of those universities.

“Our agreement strongly encourages the University of Virginia to publish the results of research before sharing the results with Philip Morris,” she says. The agreement does stipulate that UVA attribute the funding source for its research.

Wood says that she was contacted by The New York Times prior to the story’s publication. She walked the reporter through the University’s agreement with Philip Morris. UVA wasn’t mentioned in the story.

But that doesn’t mean UVA won’t take Philip Morris’ money. In Febuary 2007, UVA announced a $25 million gift from the tobacco company, the largest single corporate gift at that time. In accepting the donation, President John Casteen said that the gift built on an existing relationship between Philip Morris and UVA.

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