Veteran political operative Tom Ingram will be paid up to $240,000 for a year’s work “developing communications strategies” for the University of Tennessee in connection with a lawsuit contending UT was a “hostile sexual environment” for women, reports the News Sentinel.
If paid to the maximum, that would be more money than the highest-paid communications executive for the university.
While the one-page agreement, a letter from UT to its outside legal counsel, doesn’t identify the specialist, Tom Ingram confirmed he continues to work for the Nashville-based Neal & Harwell law firm, which represents the university in Title IX matters.
Even though the lawsuit is settled, work remains to be done on media inquiries to UT President Joe DiPietro on the forming of an independent commission that will review the UT system’s policies and programs to address sexual assault, Ingram said.
He said issues like Title IX get “so complicated and so multi-dimensional” that the settlement, which looks like an end, really isn’t the end of the follow-up work.
Ingram said there is no set time frame for when that work will end.
A paid consultant for Haslam until last July, Ingram is the founder of Nashville-based public relations and lobbying firm the Ingram Group. (Note: He’s also been a longtime political aide to U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker.)
“It’s a shame that they (the university) were in that situation,” said Williams, whose lobbying organization focuses on government accountability. “How much difference it was having Tom (Ingram) do that? I don’t know.”
He wonders what the university received that it couldn’t get from its communications staff.
…The letter confirming Ingram’s hiring, dated May 2, doesn’t include specifics of the “communications strategies” he was hired to execute. His services, however, are on top of the more than $424,500 in combined salary for communications leaders for the system and campus, Vice President Tonja Johnson and former Vice Chancellor Margie Nichols.
Ingram and his employees, through the law firm, are helping with “inquiries about the Title IX case” and “providing communications support for follow-up efforts that are part of the settlement,” Johnson said in an email.
Those efforts include the president’s commission and more, such as employee training.