After the New York Times revealed a secret research contract between Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and Philip Morris earlier this month, Style Weekly, a Richmond, Virginia newspaper, investigated VCU President Eugene Trani's personal financial ties to the tobacco industry and concluded that "Trani is the tobacco industry." Style found that Trani receives an annual retainer of $40,000, including stock options, plus fees totaling $3,500 per year for serving on the board of directors of the Universal Corporation, a leading global supplier of tobacco leaf. University spokeswoman Pam Lepley said she didn't "see any connection" between Trani's getting paychecks from both the Universal Corporation and a university that operates a medical school and school of public health. Lepley added that Trani's being on the board of Universal Corporation "doesn't really pertain to the university."
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