The Grammys should be a night to celebrate artists, but the spotlight might be stolen by the drama that's going down in the Recording Academy only ten days before the awards ceremony. On Thursday, newly-minted president and CEO Deborah Dugan was removed from her position after an "allegation of misconduct," the Los Angeles Times first reported. Part of the issue may include a memo she wrote that criticized issues within the Academy and financial mismanagement and conflicts of interest, according to the New York Times.
A statement from the Academy says Dugan was put on administrative leave "in light of concerns raised to the Recording Academy board of trustees, including a formal allegation of misconduct by a senior female member of the Recording Academy team." The New York Times reports that Dugan was removed from the position after the assistant to Neil Portnow, the former Academy president, filed a complaint accusing Dugan of having a bullying management style. According to the statement, the board has hired two independent investigators to pursue the claim of misconduct.
However, Variety describes her removal as a "coup" involving Academy members who were rubbed the wrong way by Dugan's desire to make sweeping changes.
The 62nd Annual Grammy Awards would have been Dugan's first. She joined the Academy in August after serving as chief of the nonprofit (Red). In her short tenure, Dugan began to make structural changes to addressing diversity and gender imbalance in the Recording Academy. Those changes included making the Academy's leadership 50% women and presiding over the most diverse class of Grammy nominees in the institution's history, per a December press release from the Academy. Dugan promised, in that same release, to enact recommendations from the Recording Academy Diversity & Inclusion Task Force, headed by Time's Up president and CEO Tina Tchen, that include achieving gender parity on Grammy Award nominating committees and increasing initiatives to support women producers and engineers.
Insiders told Variety that Dugan instituted too much change, too quickly for the Academy's board members and one said many of them "couldn't stand her."
“What has been reported is not nearly the story that needs to be told,” said Ms. Dugan’s lawyer, Bryan Freedman, told the NY Times. “When our ability to speak is not restrained by a 28-page contract and legal threats, we will expose what happens when you ‘step up’ at the Recording Academy, a public nonprofit.”
A representative for the Academy did not immediately respond to Refinery29's request for comment.