I contacted UVA Media Relations for more information on the use of PR firm Hill & Knowlton by UVA Rector Helen Dragas, and they referred me here. Also note that Hill & Knowlton is one of the slimiest PR firms out there, having been involved in a large number of controversies over the years (e.g., regimes around the world accused of serious human rights violations; fracking and the oil/gas industry; the firm designed "the tobacco industry's strategy for counteracting scientific evidence which linked cigarette smoking to lung cancer"). THIS firm is "a contracted vendor registered with the state?" Ee gads.
Clarification regarding the use of a PR firm
June 22, 2012 - from Carol Wood, U.Va. spokesperson
The University of Virginia (Real Estate) Foundation did NOT hire a firm on behalf of the Rector.
The firm that has been hired - Hill+Knowlton - already is a contracted vendor registered with the state.
Many institutions bring on additional public relations professionals during particularly challenging times. The firm was hired on behalf of the Rector and the Board of Visitors to assist them in handling the matters over the past weeks.
While invoices will be submitted through the Board of Visitors office, no state funds will be used to pay for Hill+Knowlton's services. The funds will come from other sources of University funds, including the endowment.
At this time, NO invoices have been submitted and information about the Hill+Knowlton's state contract is available at: https://www.gsaadvantage.gov/r...
P.S Also note that I contacted Hill & Knowlton for comment; their spokesperson responded with a non-answer, that "As general corporate policy, we do not comment on our clients or prospects, or the details of our relationships with either." Not that they have anything to hide, of course. Heh. ;)