From rumour to revelation

October 1, 2004

The law of unintended consequences may have been at work when Gerry McKenna, the vice-chancellor of Ulster University, sent an email to staff to counter "misleading and inaccurate" speculation about his personal life.

For Ulster staff have told The Times Higher that the email, sent to about 3,500 employees, alerted many more people to the rumours than had been aware of them beforehand.

Professor McKenna's email, sent to members of staff last Tuesday, began:

"Colleagues, some of you will be aware that there has been speculation, much of it misleading and inaccurate, about my personal life."

Professor McKenna said the rumours, which the university confirmed were about his marriage, had no bearing on his ability to carry out his duties as vice-chancellor. He asked staff to respect his and his family's privacy.

Alan Burnside, managing director of Citigate Public Affairs, one of Northern Ireland's premier public relations companies, said: "If they aren't discussing the allegations, people will now be discussing the emails.

"A better choice would be to protect your privacy by just ignoring such rumours."

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