The Ousting of Sullivan: How We Got Here

You’d really have to put a lot of work into something to fuck it up as badly as the UVA Board of Visitors has with their removal of Teresa Sullivan from the presidency.

Based on all of the latest evidence to come out, here’s what happened. Rector Helen Dragas spent months persuading a majority of the 16-member board to support ousting Sullivan. To circumvent Virginia’s open meetings law, Dragas and vice rector Mark Kington talked with them one by one, apparently only meeting with those members who she thought were most amenable to supporting her plan. (Macdonald Caputo, Heywood Fralin, and Vincent Mastracco—and perhaps others—were not contacted until the last minute.)

Somewhere along the line the growing group brought in the chair of the Darden School Foundation, Peter Kiernan. In an e-mail to fellow Darden trustees on Sunday, Kiernan made the mistake of telling the truth, describing how he’d worked with “two important Virginia alums” on the “project” to oust Sullivan.

Governor McDonnell’s spokesman says that the governor was notified only days beforehand that Sullivan was to be forced out, apparently once Dragas had obtained enough support from the board to get a majority supporting the coup.

On Friday, Sullivan was apparently informed that she could quit or be fired.

On Sunday morning the Board of Visitors announced that they’d hold an emergency executive session that afternoon, giving just a few hours’ notice. That “emergency” bit is important. Under § 2.2-3701 of the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, an “emergency” is “an unforeseen circumstance rendering the notice required by this chapter impossible or impracticable and which circumstance requires immediate action.” That’s what allowed them to meet without providing the three-day notice that’s legally required. The fact that this was planned for months makes clear that no such emergency could have existed. The meeting was illegal.

The meeting involved just three members of the executive committee: Dragas, Kington, and Charlottesville developer Hunter Craig. Holding that meeting with little notice, on a Sunday, was advantageous to Dragas, since that prevented the attendance of executive committee members who opposed the coup against Sullivan. Macdonald Caputo was unable to travel, due to an injury. George Martin was out of the country, in South Africa. The vote was 3–0 to accept Sullivan’s “resignation.”

The story went public, and people immediately began to wonder why Sullivan had quit. Was she forced out? Was the board’s lack of explanation perhaps to spare her some humiliation?

Then that e-mail from Darden’s Kiernan got out. Today Kiernan resigned from the board, writing in a letter that his e-mail had been “confusing” (on the contrary, it was enlightening) and strained credulity with his claim that his work to toss the president was completely unrelated to the fact that he’s chairing Darden’s foundation. Kiernan’s e-mail was important, because it was the first piece of evidence that there was a long-term conspiracy, at the highest levels of the university—and perhaps the state—to force out the brand-new president.

Sullivan has been out of town all week. Officially, she’s president until August 15, but in a functional sense, it’s not at all clear that she’s still the president now. Her top two deputies have been standing in for her. If she is running the show, then whatever meetings she already had scheduled elsewhere, I’ve got to imagine that she’d cancel them to deal with the unfolding crisis at UVA.

There’s one more wrinkle. Dragas said, in an interview, that “this decision [to force out Sullivan] should be judged after a new president is installed.” She’s saying that, when we compare Sullivan to the next president, then we’ll see that the next president is better. A reasonable inference is that Dragas already knows who the next president will be—that this isn’t a coup to eliminate Sullivan but, instead, to replace her with somebody specific. If that proves to be true, it seems vanishingly unlikely that the faculty will soon accept the legitimacy of that president, which will make his term awfully unpleasant.

The Board of Visitors has called another emergency meeting, this time giving a few days’ notice, and they’ll be meeting on Monday to figure out what to do. They’re faced with near-unanimous opposition from university faculty, furious alumni, and terrible press coverage locally and nationally.

I have to wonder what they thought would happen. To fire Sullivan without explanation was bound to have precisely this result. Making a murder look like a suicide is an old tactic, but they didn’t put any effort into cleaning up the crime scene.

The trouble that the BOV has now is that they are functionally impotent to deal with this backlash. They have a staff of three: a secretary, a clerk, and an administrative assistant. They do not deign to interact with faculty. They almost all have jobs and busy lives outside of their positions on the BOV, and live scattered throughout the state, so it’s not like they can sit in an office together, put together a support staff, and strategize about how to deal with this. At best they might hope to get help from the staff at Madison Hall, but—just a hunch—they’re not liable to get top-flight work out of the folks in the president’s office right now. Andrew Jackson is said to have declared, in response to the Supreme Court’s decision in Worcester v. Georgia, “John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it!” In a practical sense, the Board of Visitors has very little power over the operations of the university. They can remove the president, but the people who make up the university can do a lot more damage.

How much damage? Rumor has it that members of the teaching faculty are talking about a boycott come fall semester, in two months’ time. It remains to be seen whether that will come to fruition, or what their specific demand is going to be. (An explanation? Re-hire Sullivan? Fire Dragas? Replace the whole Board of Visitors?) But if the Board of Visitors wants to play hardball, they may find that faculty are prepared to play, too.

Despite everything that we know now, we still have no insight into the heart of the matter: why Sullivan was forced out. But we’ll know before long. There are too many people involved at this point, and there’s too much at stake.

92 Responses to “The Ousting of Sullivan: How We Got Here”


  • Not sure what’s implied in a boycott. I have a hard time imagining people refusing to teach their classes, but I can certainly imagine some version of work-to-rule. Which would pretty much bring the University to a standstill.

  • I think that’s right, Greg. I’m dubious that tenured faculty would just flat-out refuse to teach, but even with my limited knowledge of the benefits that tenure affords, I think they could get awfully close to a boycott by just all simultaneously doing the contractual minimum.

  • One has to wonder if the BOV breaks ranks could Sullivan rescind her resignation. After reading this http://wapo.st/MUu4Hu I kind of hope she does.

    She is married to a great lawyer and Whitehead has offered free legal.If Dragas misrepresented the BOS as a whole, Sullivan could have options

  • Oh sweet Jesus, what the fuck were these people thinking? I didn’t really like Sullivan, but I like this process for ousting her even less.

    Did, perhaps, these Darden MBA people all think that the academic world works like a corporation where you can just give people orders and they have to follow them?

  • The faculty senate is on this. I think there will be a faculty-wide meeting on Sunday and then they will meet with the BOV and the negotiations will begin. There could be a strike of sorts. I would participate. It is the public vs. the BOV at this point. The root problem is the way BOVs are appointed and the capturing of the University by corporate neoliberal (Dem and Rep) interests. Its about privatizing a public resource, thats what is behind these micro-political machinations. We need reform so tha the BOV looks more like the people of the Commonwealth and less like a corporate boardroom. That’s the heart of the matter. Do we want UVA turned into a diploma factory and a big business that merely prepares automatons for the global corporate economy? I think Sulivan stood up to this corporate bullying.Her allegiance is to the profession of education.

    I don’t think the MBA class thought much about pushback from the ranks, they are used to bullying thier employees in their corporations. This aint a corporation and I am hopeful the faculty won’t act like sheep. It is a line in the sand so to speak. On the other side of the line are the University of Phoenix model and is that what we want Jefferson’s university to become. We should go back to 1933 when the University was governed by the faculty.

    So that’s where this is not just about the BOV vs. the Faculty. Its is a public university and even those who never attend or don’t have arelative who attends have a dog in the fight. We need students, alums, and citizens weighing in and protesting.

    The legislature is the final authorizor of the BOV, even though the Gov. appoints. So that is why it is important that all citizens weigh in on this and protest going forward. Having David Toscano and Creigh Deeds involved is an imprtant first step. They need to convey to their colleagues the outrage and impropriety of this move. So its the fsuclty ,alums, students, and citizens vs. the elitist BOV and a small oligarichal cabal at that it turns out.

    What the Faculty Senate does next is important. They need to play hardball with these crooks and fascists. We all need to rally around the faculty as they may become a fulcrum of potential change.

    My demands would be:
    1. Dismiss the BOV
    2. Reinstate Sullivan
    3. Change the appointment process for BOVs

    If there is public action planned by the Faculty Senate, I urge all of you in the public to participate in that action, don’t lreave the faculty hanging. There is power in numbers. Its a public university and it belongs to the pubic, not a group of fat cat corporate types who have the morality which brought on the depression we are all in.

  • Dragas will manipulate a weak BoV to prevent reconsideration of Sullivan’s ouster. Dragas will refuse to allow motions to reconsider, and will limit discussion to “who’ll be the interim President?” Which does raise the question–how do you have an interim president when until August 15 there is still a serving president? The real answer is, there isn’t one, the coup took care to cut off Sullivan from actual power as happens. This is not a “Justice Marshall has made his decision, let him enforce it situation:” Dragas enforces it herself, through minions who already divided up Sullivan’s responsibilities. Dragas’s minions control the bureaucracy: the salary check-writing accountants, the U Va police, buildings and grounds. The faculty may rebel but who cares whether this or that poetry seminar gets taught, what matters is are the lights on? Are the cafeterias open? Bureaucrats always serve whoever a coup puts in charge. So–Dragas’ coup cannot readily be reversed. The loss of alumni support , faculty disaffection, and a drop dozens of digits in college rankings will over time affect the quality of the students who apply, sending U Va into a long term death spiral. Could that be reversed with a star President? Who–Oprah? Recruiting General Lee saved the struggling Washington College in Lexington after the Civil War, now prospering as Washington & Lee University– but as the Washington Post said, no person of stature would be willing to work with this BoV. So thank you Ms. Dragas for confirming the old maxim: “the quickest way to kill liberal education is to put it in the hands of the uneducated.”

  • builditandtheywillwhine

    Truth to Power: The Faculty Senate isn’t that powerful and if they strike some could be fired. Considering what the BOV did to Sullivan it’s not unthinkable. Faculty are employees, how they can truly play hardball is beyond me. I think the faculty will be resolute but cooler heads will prevail and properly moderate it’s action.

    The BOV will not be dismissed but I now can’t see Dragas being reappointed (no matter what she had been promised). That will solve some of this uproar. I once thought that reinstating Sullivan was a pipe dream but this has gone so badly and the bullshit* is getting deeper every day, so this doesn’t seem to be as improbable as it did a few days ago.

    The lack of preparation for the public outcry and the delay in dealing with it is an enormous failing of the BOV that will have repercussions, I’m just not sure how far this will go. Could some of the BOV resign-sure but the new appointments will be the Governors only real chance to publicly weigh in on this. If Dragas is reappointed he will have no place to hide and this will be his mess. I’m sure the BOV’s next appointments will be quite the topic in Richmond for the next 2 weeks.

    June 1(when the new BOV appointments kick in) may bring changes that will directly relieve the enormous pressure that this firing has brought about.

  • Good job.

  • @NewsHound (ruff)…

    You’re forgetting one important item that can trump Dragas – with due process, of course: Gov McDonnell.

    To this point, he’s offered no public comment on the matter; privately, I’m guessing he’s had plenty to say and I’m also guessing that much of it has to do with Dragas. Time will soon tell, but with or without Gov McDonnell’s help, I don’t think she escapes with her position or her dignity intact.

  • Re: the BOV not having staff to deal with this debacle: I read somewhere that Dragas and Kington (who both sit on Dominion’s board) asked Tom Farrell (president of Dominion and former Rector of UVA) for recommendations of consultants Dominion has worked with who could help them smooth over this mess. I’m not sure which is worse: Darden or Dominion in charge of The University.

  • One thing striking about reaction to this BOV misstep is – it is nonpartisan. Or multipartisan. All this talk (with evidence) about polarization …. but there’s a coalition here. Darden is trying to distance itself from Kiernan. Catholic faculty, many conservative, support Sullivan. Rich former med school donors are outraged. Mrs. Gilmore has written against it. Across age, across liberal arts to professional schools, across all the usual demographic and partisan categories, everyone hates what the BOV did.

    The Rector has taken so much heat – but what’s the story with the Vice Rector? He’s the one appointed by Warner, dropped by Kaine, re-upped by McDonnell.

    Maybe the Governor’s political ambitions will spur him to build on this pretty striking coalition and come up with a solution to this mess.

  • I hope the applicable FOIA requests have been filed.

  • John David Church

    I have a daughter at the University, and as the bumper sticker says, “My child and my money go to UVA”. As a very proud parent I can only simply say that this whole process doesn’t pass the smell test. Each day the smell seems to be getting worse and the biggest shame is that all of our children are being exposed to this back-handed way of going about things. It is sad enough that this type of move happens at all, but to happen at this University and all that it stands for has made for a smelly chapter in the school’s history.

  • Write a note to Gov. McDonnell (http://www.governor.virginia.gov/AboutTheGovernor/contactGovernor.cfm) and ask him to not reappoint Helen Dragas when her term is up at the end of this month. Regardless of the reasons for Ms. Sullivan’s ouster, the gross mishandling of the situation would be grounds for dismissal had an employee acted with such disregard for the public relations fallout of their actions. Fire Dragas!
    Also, the students and faculty are joining ranks Monday at 2:30 for a silent rally during the BOV meeting. Details here: https://www.facebook.com/events/454701241209710/
    Share both links widely!

  • To Gail Hyder Wiley’s point, write a letter to Gov McDonnell and ask him to ask Dragas to resign immediately. This will send a message that he’s on top of this situation and might help prevent this conflagration from spreading further.

    I sent my note earlier this morning and asked him to do this very thing vis-a-vis this portion of my note:

    “Like so many others from whom you’ve undoubtedly heard, I implore you, as a man of integrity and a man of honor, to please seek the immediate resignation of Rector Dragas and each BOV member who chose to take public matters into their own hands – potentially breaking the law in the process – and throw a good woman and the entire University under the bus in the process.”

  • @Builditand they will whine,

    This Faculty Senate resolution I believe is unprecedented in UVA history so your pessimism may be premature. The Faculty Senate will be holding an open meeting for Faculty on Sunday at 5 pm (location TBA). We will see what happens from there. The faculty may find its power in this moment, its been a long time coming. I would feel better about it if other schools had written a letter like the one that came from the dept. heads in the College. Faculty cannot trust administrators to do the right thing here. Where is the push back from the Curry School, Law School, Architecture School, etc. faculty?

    We now know from inside sources reported in the Chronicle of Higher Education, that Strine apparently went behind Sullivan’s back directly to the BOVs, so it may turn out he was involved in the Putcsh. Who knows if some of the Deans were not also involved like that as well?

    I don’t think people realize that this little episode represents a significant line in the sand on the corporate takeovers of public Universities and institutions in general. Its not Dem-Rep., its corporate types v. the people of the Commonwealth who own the University of Virginia. If I were the AAUP I would send in the organizers and the support troops to counter the Dominion Corp resources that are being mobilized to support the oligarch’s agenda.

    I am hoping that the students, alums, citizens of Charlottesville and other locales in the Commonwealth join in with whatever protest actions result. I hope they support faculty by writing their legislators, who ultimately have the power over the BOVs, coming to public meetings like the 2:30 Monday meeting of the BOVs at the Rotunda. I hope that Delegate Toscano and Sen. Deeds among others show up to support the faculty and then spread the word to their colleagues.

    It takes a village to stop the village idiots from ruing the Village. Please come out and support public control of public education!!!!!

  • that’s Ruining the village at the end.

  • Here’s an interesting little fact worth knowing. § 23-76 has the following to say about the UVA Board of Visitors:

    The board shall be charged with the care and preservation of all property belonging to the University. They shall appoint a president, with such duties as may be prescribed by the board, and who shall have supreme administrative direction under the authority of the board over all the schools, colleges and branches of the University wherever located, and they shall appoint as many professors as they deem proper, and, with the assent of two-thirds of the whole number of visitors, may remove such president or any professor.

    (That’s my emphasis.) Dragas didn’t need nine votes to fire Sullivan. She needed eleven. Not a majority of the BOV members who attended a meeting, but a majority of the “whole number”—sixteen.

  • Great article.
    Multiple ironies at Mr Jefferson’s University— a non democratic secret group can remove a president.
    I agree with all the protests but I honestly think the BOV doesnt care what we think

  • “the Smartest Guys in the Room” strike again! the arrogance and hubris of these cabals are fostered by a lack of transparency – shine some light on all of these proceedings. The BOV,what used to be a group of benevolent stewards for the university, i am thinking of Hovey Dabney, a great one, the new vampires have risen to the role of political familiars and toadies for the right wing, avarice and more Wall Street shenanigans. Now, in this age of political alienation and partisan insurgency, UVA has been taken over by the megalomaniacal Dragas thinking she had hidden all trace of her conspiracy – ” . . .out out damn spot!” thank you Kiernan!

    protect the University, fire the BOV, re-hire Sullivan, re-vamp BOV appointment protocols with input from faculty and students. hold your donations until this happens.

  • “Dragas didn’t need nine votes to fire Sullivan. She needed eleven. Not a majority of the BOV members who attended a meeting, but a majority of the “whole number”—sixteen.”

    Can you imagine that it could have been a bluff? Dragas goes to Sullivan and tells her that she’s got to votes to fire her. Sullivan buys that and resigns. But, maybe, Dragas didn’t even have the votes. Now, that’d be some serious gamesmanship.

  • When you write to McDonnell remind him, the University is not that kind of a corporation: “All I can tell you is that we have very qualified people that serve on these boards,” McDonnell said. “ … They’re really top-flight people. A lot of business people that have run major organizations. And these decisions are largely left up to the boards.”
    http://www2.dailyprogress.com/news/2012/jun/15/mcdonnell-sullivan-ouster-shock-ar-1990644/

  • quote from Chronicle Higher Ed story posted last night:
    “To great fanfare last year, Ms. Sullivan recruited the Johns Hopkins University’s chief operating officer and a Duke University vice provost to take similar positions at Virginia. But Michael Strine, executive vice president and chief operating officer, and John D. Simon, executive vice president and provost, are locked in a tense and continuing power struggle over who has the authority to steer university resources, said the administrative sources, who were given anonymity to describe internal matters.”

  • Can you imagine that it could have been a bluff? Dragas goes to Sullivan and tells her that she’s got to votes to fire her. Sullivan buys that and resigns. But, maybe, Dragas didn’t even have the votes. Now, that’d be some serious gamesmanship.

    I was wondering the same thing while writing out that comment. It seems too implausible to even entertain…but within the context of everything that’s happened in the past week, perhaps not.

  • Well, if it was a bluff and Sullivan caved that easy and fast it does make me wonder about her in a position at the top. IF if was a bluff…

  • Is it true that the “two important alumni” who worked on a “project to oust Sullivan”, according to Kiernan’s email, are Tom Farrell and Bill Goodwin, both of Richmond? If it is Bill Goodwin, this is the third woman in a leadership position he has taken down at UVA.

    Could it possibly be true that Dragas’ November evaluation of Sullivan had anything to so with her personal appearance? If this is true, it is outrageous.

  • Rising stars ( Governor McDonnell ) don’t like it when their subjects are fussing loudly and publicly. My sense is the way to reinstate Sullivan is with loud continuing public protest that is covered nationally.

    Everyone who cares about governing can make this happen so let’s show the world that people of all political persuasion can work together .

  • If the people around the world can overthrow oppressors so can we . Adults and students join together use social media and stand up for the principles this University was founded on.

  • Ive wondered if the votes were there & if TS had called her bluff what would have happened. Dragas is clearly shady. No reason to think she would be telling the truth then. Out with her & all the BOV.

  • Please join our facebook group in support of President Sullivan’s Reinstatement:
    http://www.facebook.com/groups/332890806789033/

    We are running an email campaign today and will be joining the faculty in a joint rally on Monday.

  • Women just can’t work together. ;)

  • Who Is Michael Strine?

    I would like follow-up to Lyon’s comment–the strife between Strine and Simon.

    Simon seems to be respected, has a long history of academic achievement, and seems to have been in the dark about this process. According to his official bio: Provost Simon served as the Vice-Provost for Academic Affairs at Duke University from 2005 to 2011. As Vice-Provost, Simon was responsible for overseeing Duke’s strategic planning and for nurturing campus-wide academic initiatives to connect the humanities, social sciences and sciences. He chaired Duke’s chemistry department from 1999-2004.

    Strine seems less liked/trusted/respected, has a short academic record, and seems to have had some knowledge about the firing process before it occurred. According to his official bio: Before his role at Johns Hopkins, Strine had nearly a decade of experience in senior finance roles in government in Delaware, as chief financial officer of New Castle County and as chief of policy and operations in the state’s Department of Finance.

    My question is–how involved is Strine in this and is he angling for even more power?

  • I love how students are held to (and hold up) the Honor Code, “I shall not lie, cheat or steal” – I guess Dragas and Kington think they’re above that? Nice way to represent yourselves as part of UVA. You lie to oust our president, cheat the UVA community out of our leader and steal our integrity. You don’t fit in the community of trust, now get out.

  • Dan1101–Your attempt at “humor” falls flat.

  • All these drives to have Sullivan reinstated are touching, but has anyone bothered to ask her if she *wants*, or even would be willing to be reinstated? I mean, I sure as hell wouldn’t, what with all these Gordon Geckos crawling over the serpentine walls. No, I’d take my severance, have a killer summer off, then take the position at Berkeley and laugh every year as UC destroys UVa in the national rankings.

  • Michael Strine is brilliant, hard-working and low-key. He works 16 hours a day, 7 days a week, and is totally dedicated to his job. He has nothing but the best interests of the University at heart and the UVa community is fortunate to have him in a leadership position, particularly during the current situation. Any attempt to vilify him or question his motivation is just plain wrong.

  • Come on everybody, the BOV is going to continue biz as usual. These are the kind of people who don’t think things like rules apply to them. It’s really too bad she didn’t refuse to quit and just let them try to terminate her. In some ways I think it may reflect more on Sullivan as an unfit leader that she quit rather than fight. Do you want leaders that are fighters or quitters?

  • Who Is Michael Strine?

    Harry Landers–No intent to vilify. But very curious why the reaction to Simon and Strine seems so varied. He seems a much less known quantity than Simon. Any insight into the basis of the “power struggle”?

  • This is the best live soap opera going! What entertainment: the sort you must laugh at lest you break down crying.

    Per some of what I’ve read elsewhere, Sullivan was in the process of shifting some of the financial oversight from Strine to Simon. This could explain some of the Strine/Simon tension if accurate.

    Ms Sullivan returned yesterday and held some sort of previously-arranged gathering in her home last night. She’s behaved incredibly well throughout this episode (project) and, as far as I can see, has kept all of her options open. With a full-enough victory/vindication, I can see her resuming her duties. If she wants to.

    Every institution should not be run like a business. Governments are one very big non-business and universities are another. I am growing towards a better understanding of Jefferson’s perpetual revolution ideal. Institutions quickly become bureaucracies: that’s the bit that needs profound and thorough weeding on a regular basis.

  • From BOV minutes.

    President Sullivan provided the following report on gifts and grants:

    Current Fiscal Year through April 30, 2012

    Philanthropic giving to the University and its related foundations is $195,473,957.13 for the fiscal year through April 30, 2012. This is an increase of $6,149,456.97, or 3.25% above the results of the previous fiscal year.

    Gifts to the School of Architecture, Children’s Hospital, Medical Center, the Jefferson Scholars Foundation, the Women’s Center, the UVa Alumni Association, and the University of Virginia’s College at Wise saw increases of more than 50% in support in the first ten months over last year.

    Gifts and Grants Report [Current Fiscal Year through April 30, 2011]

    The President said philanthropic giving to the University of Virginia and its related foundations is $189,324,500.16 for the fiscal year through April 30, 2011. This is an increase of $20,189,999.72, or 11.94% above the results of the previous fiscal year.

    The College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, State Arboretum, Curry School of Education, School of Engineering and Applied Science, Center for Politics, Darden School, and Historic Preservation saw giving increases greater than 50% over last year. The School of Commerce and School of Law also realized moderate increases.

  • If it turns out Strine went to the coup makers on the board behind Sullivan’s back he deserves to be villified . The facts will come out

  • Caveat: this is all speculation, I don’t have any info, just kind of curious about putting the pieces together. It is important to remember that universities are academic institutions. Not everything is a corporation! The limited info/experience I have about Strine is positive.

    Reporting from a legit source, the Chronicle, is important – at least it is a question out there.

    One more theory, maybe too speculative. First thing Sullivan did when she arrived on grounds was to break up the consolidated position Sandridge had created. Under Casteen it is not an exaggeration that Sandridge was Cheney. Casteen trolled, Sandridge ran the show. Most/all the admin layer under Sandridge was flunkies. Many but not all of those have been removed in the last two years.

    What is the relationship between Sandridge and Strine. Sandridge is still an advisor, who has huge knowledge and experience base way beyond any of the other players. Not at all clear tho no matter how loyal Sandridge is to the institution – the real estate and the brand – that he cares about the academic mission. Is Strine his protegee?

  • I, too, am wondering why Sullivan didn’t fight it. Typically, leaders resign under pressure when they’ve either done something seriously wrong or they’re to blame for horrible performance of their organization. Neither seems to be the case here.

  • And there had been three years of decline before she took office:

    Gifts and Grants Report [FY09-10]
    Current fiscal year through April 30, 2010, philanthropic giving
    to the University and its related foundations is $169 million. This
    is a decrease from the previous year, however, last year and the prior
    year substantial funds were received from the pledge for the Batten
    School for Leadership and Public Policy.

    Gifts and Grants Report [FY08-09]
    The President stated that philanthropic giving to the University and its related foundations is $217,552,466.47 for the fiscal year through May 31, 2009.
    This is a decrease of $38,703,137.04, or 15% below the results of the previous fiscal year.

    President’s Report: Gifts and Grants [FY07-08]
    The President reported that philanthropic giving to the University and its related foundations was $241.3million for the fiscal year through April 30th, which is a decrease of $7.7million, or 3.1% over the same period last year.

  • Is it true that the “two important alumni” who worked on a “project to oust Sullivan”, according to Kiernan’s email, are Tom Farrell and Bill Goodwin, both of Richmond? If it is Bill Goodwin, this is the third woman in a leadership position he has taken down at UVA.

    Could it possibly be true that Dragas’ November evaluation of Sullivan had anything to so with her personal appearance? If this is true, it is outrageous.

    In case anybody’s wondering, the reason everybody’s ignoring this comment is because there is zero evidence for any of this. One might as well claim that Dragas is working on behalf of Chinese spies.

  • “One might as well claim that Dragas is working on behalf of Chinese spies.”

    If that’s true, this could all be an elaborate plot orchestrated by the trilateral commission and the Bilderberg Group.

    (See? Anyone can play!)

  • I’m a professor at UVa and this article is the first I’ve heard of any fall boycott. I am 100% certain that there will be no boycott of any kind by the faculty, and I’d be very surprised if any faculty member even publicly proposed such a bone-headed idea. We faculty are devoted to the core missions of our jobs: teaching, research, and public service. Our anger about this fiasco won’t alter our commitment to doing our jobs.

    On a related note, the Sunday 5:00pm faculty senate meeting will be held at Darden’s Abbot Auditorium. Yes, a delicious irony. There is also a public meeting of the BoV at 5:00pm Monday after their closed door meeting at 3:00. I don’t know where the public meeting will be – I think they may want to have it at Scott Stadium to accommodate all those who want to attend…

  • I’m a professor at UVa and this article is the first I’ve heard of any fall boycott. I am 100% certain that there will be no boycott of any kind by the faculty, and I’d be very surprised if any faculty member even publicly proposed such a bone-headed idea.

    That’s great to know, James—thanks for sharing that!

  • @James Harrigan,

    There are some faculty who have talked about what happens of the BOV plays hardball and won’t explain themselves or make amends. When you are playing in the sandbox with the likes of Goldman Sachs, Dominion Power you have to be prepared to play hardball and the threat of a strike is possible as a tool to get them to make amends for this horrendous anti-democratic nonsense.

    If it all pans out as suspected:
    1) Dragas didn’t have the votes and BS’d her way into an executive committee decision and the BOV doesn’t have 11 votes to oust Sullivan;
    2) if she violated open meeting laws;
    3) if the conspiracy to get Goldman-Sachs online education scam at UVA…

    There there is some heavy accounting to do and immediate change necessary. I had heard that a BOV with ties to Johns Hopkins was being considered as interim. Now if it turns out as the Chronicle of HED states that there are sources in Madison Hall that have said that Strine went behind Sullivan’s back because of micro-politics, then there is another layer of intrigue and reckoning to be done. How, if at all, was Strine connected to the cabal? THat has to be asked.

    If I decided to strike it would be out of commitment to the students who deserve better than to have their university turned into a corporate, privatized, online education mill governed by business magnates who are only about making money, self interest, and the end of public higher education. That’s what this is really all about anyway in the end. I would ask the students to strike with us so they can be an active part in taking back the ownership of the public university from megalomaniac robber barons who have been appointed to run it because of the corrupted political system and appointment process.

    The faculty Senate exec. Committee will met with the BOV Rector and Vice rector on Monday. What hey will do will depend on what the Facult say at the 5 pm Sunday meeting.

    I encourage everyone to come out to the 5 pm meeting at Darden on Sunday as well as the 2:30 rally Monday before the BOV meeting and the 5 pm BOV meeting. Let them know what you think of their decision.

    Reinstate Sullivan
    Dismiss the BOV
    Appoint a new BOV that is not beholden to corporate interests, reflects faculty, student and parent interests and reflects the diversity of the Commonwealth

  • Why aren’t the news reporters following this lead: Code of Virginia 23-69 “The rector and visitors of the University of Virginia shall be at all times subject to the control of the General Assembly.” Everyone has a boss.

  • One thought that I’ve not heard aired elsewhere: people have wondered why Sullivan didn’t fight more once she met with Dragas last Friday, but was willing to go along and resign. Two related possibilities come to mind. First, perhaps it’s not been easy working with the BOV, and she felt like it wasn’t a job she wanted to sacrifice her dignity to keep. But second, what if, as Waldo initially speculated when this story first broke, she had from the outset been hired for a short time period, to clean up the university, and she knew that? What if they had said, you’ll have five years to do all the things that Casteen hasn’t done, and bring us up to the standards of Michigan? This would explain why she wasn’t “allowed” to do a strategic plan; there was a planned sunset that meant she wouldn’t be able to enact any elements of that plan if she did one. So then the BOV conversations behind the scenes may have been more along the lines of, “I know we budgeted five years for Sullivan to make this a better place, but we don’t have it. Time to boot her and move on because there are all these ‘existential threats’.” And then the conversation with Sullivan would have had overtones of, “I know we were going to give you five years, but you’re done now. Time to move on to Stage 2.”

    I think it’s likely, regardless, that the BOV found her to be a more principled and formidable executive than they had planned for her to be. The thing that my thought in the previous paragraph doesn’t explain is why they wouldn’t have her announce now that she was going to resign a year from now, thus avoiding the need for an(other) interim, if indeed they saw her as a “palate cleanser” all along. So, it seems likely to me that things like the living wage campaign and perhaps elements of their longer term plans (like online education) were causing more disagreements between BOV and Sullivan than BOV had patience for, if their commitment to her was never high to begin with.

  • Professor Harrigan,

    I appreciate your dedication to your profession, but if the principles upon which the University of Virginia are so compromised as to make what was once a great university a mere shell of itself, and beholden to those whose endgame is self aggrandizement and not education, then I would hope as a matter of principle you would take whatever action was necessary to restore honor to the University.
    Did you listen to your colleague Professor Burton on WINA. He certainly seems to feel that a situation of this magnitude has never before faced this institution, and I don’t think anyone really knows where this road will lead, so to rule out any action seems premature.

    http://www.wina.com/play_window.php?audioType=Episode&audioId=5894635

  • Why aren’t the news reporters following this lead: Code of Virginia 23-69 “The rector and visitors of the University of Virginia shall be at all times subject to the control of the General Assembly.” Everyone has a boss.

    Reporters may well be following that lead, but it looks like a dead end to me. The entire chapter of the Code of Virginia about UVA spells out the terms of the university’s existence, defining how the BOV is appointed, how UVA buys and sells land, how they can raise money via bonds, etc. Given all of that specificity, it’s tough to know what to do with something as vague as “subject to the control of the General Assembly.” There is no definition of the word “control” in the Code of Virginia that applies to the UVA chapter, and that makes that sentence seem more like a platitude. I can’t find any case law that cites § 23-69, either (an attorney would be able to do a more thorough search than I), so there’s no guidance available there.

  • I think Waldo found the really useful angle earlier: no emergency existed therefore the three member executive committee meeting without notice was illegal & their decision can (and should) be overturned.

    What I’m not clear on is who has standing to bring that case. Do all Virginians, as taxpayers towards this public university, have standing? The faculty? The students? The groundskeepers? The BOV members who were kept in the dark?

    That’s where I believe the narrow edge of the wedge resides.

    As an aside, I was vicariously proud of student council who oh-so-gently reminded the BOV that they are subject to the UVA honor code & the BOV should be as well. Well done!

  • I’m not sure if this applies, but it was in the Washington Post:

    ‘Maria Everett, executive director of the FOIA Council, said state law allows boards to poll members by phone and e-mail and then take action, but she said the technique should not be used to circumvent the law. …..Only three board members are needed for a quorum, university spokeswoman Carol Wood said. Dragas, Kington and a third member, real estate developer Hunter Craig, attended the meeting.”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/three-members-of-u-va-board-were-kept-in-dark-about-effort-to-oust-sullivan/2012/06/14/gJQAXsBddV_story_1.html

  • Over the years UVa established several lesser institutions under its umbrella without damage to its reputation. The School of Continuing Education and Clinch Valley College spring to mind. So why should college courses on-line under UVa’s name harm the school’s rep?

    By letting thousands of people hear of the place who never did before? By bringing in millions in profitable fees? By giving students who can’t afford campus life a better higher education choice than Phoenix University, Western Governors’ School, and scores of other phony institutions created in response to federal government tuition loan programs?

    This is all speculative, and no harm comes from looking at the whole picture. No one is dojng that.

  • Truth to Power this is not a good situation but please remove your tin hat and reread what have written here. You assert rights that don’t exist in the situation presented. I’m going to enjoy the weekend and see what Monday’s meetings bring

    My fav for interim president is Gov Bailies O

  • I hope we won’t need an interim president, but if we do, I think Gov. Baliles would be an excellent choice. That having been said, I would hope that he’d have the grit to say he wouldn’t accept unless certain BOV members resigned–and the stature to make that happen.

  • I plan to support the Faculty Senate Resolution and demand that President Sullivan be reinstated. First things first . And I hold, as they do, no confidence in any decision made henceforth by the Board of Visitors. If the Faculty speaks as one voice that is the best chance to return honor and stability back to UVA. Hopefully President Sullivan, as a service to those she has worked so hard for will return, and the BOV members that unnecessarily created so much turmoil and suffering will be removed.

    What a complete waste of the human and monetary resources of the University of Virginia. It is unfathomable to understand what those who created this mess were thinking !

    BOV members who behave in this manner and support such behavior demand no respect or confidence from any of us.

  • And this comment at Lisa Provence’s latest excellent article is indicative of what I am hearing. Alumni to UVa enmasse are withholding their contributions.

    UVa Family June 15th, 2012 | 10:44pm

    Excellent article by Lisa Provence.

    We are a multi-generational UVa family and – like everyone who has expressed concern for the flagrant disregard by Rector Dragas for due process – are dismayed and saddened by the fall-out of the BoV decisions. If we – the concerned constituents and stakeholders – acquiese to this situation of an eminently qualified President being forced out in such an unseemly fashion, we will be setting a PRECEDENT for future self-serving and politicised boards.

    I am glad that Bob O’Neill has spoken out and I hope that Dragas & co. realize that they have done severe damage to the reputation of the University.

    My family will be writing to Bob Sweeney at the Development Office (and to specific schools from which we have graduated) to advise him that we will not be making any donations to the University and schools that we have supported until the BoV explain this outrageous ambush of due process and protocol.

    Given the reports of how Rector Dragas has gone about achieving her (and whose else?) agenda of ousting a President after less than 2 years in office, I can’t help but feel that this is no longer a university that I am proud to be associated with. I implore the BoV to do the right thing and address this wrong. President Sullivan has done what she was hired to do. Do the BoV members think we can find someone else with her credentials & maturity to come to the University after the way we have treated Terry Sullivan?

    I also encourage other donors to withhold their pledges and donations (if you have not funded yet) until after June 30 when the FY ends. Nothing to do if you have already funded but do let your opinions be known to the money people at the University. Unfortunately, sometimes people only hear the money talk.

    Dragas has inflicted a severe wound on the body of this university and we must not stand by and condone it.

    http://www.readthehook.com/104249/bad-form-bov-ignored-president-replacing-precedent

  • Just saw this great article by Professor Siva Vaidhyanathan at Slate with this comment:

    reluctant activist
    Thank you for the best piece so far on the raping and pillaging of our beloved University. And thanks for explaining the mumbo jumbo of “strategic dynamism”. I’m thinking of having signs made for Monday’s rally that say. “Slightly worn University 4 sale. Call Helen Dragas at BOV”

    http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/hey_wait_a_minute/2012/06/teresa_sullivan_fired_from_uva_what_happens_when_universities_are_run_by_robber_barons_.single.html#comments

  • This will all make sense in hindsight when Edward Ayers returns to The University as its next President after 5 successful years at the University of Richmond, and the University will be in much better hands going forward!

  • @treesdown,

    I have reread it and stand by what I wrote. I will take off the tin hat if you take off your blinders and remove the earwax.

    I said:

    “If I decided to strike it would be out of commitment to the students who deserve better than to have their university turned into a corporate, privatized, online education mill governed by business magnates who are only about making money, self interest, and the end of public higher education. That’s what this is really all about anyway in the end. I would ask the students to strike with us so they can be an active part in taking back the ownership of the public university from megalomaniac robber barons who have been appointed to run it because of the corrupted political system and appointment process.”

    I take issue with many who have said this is merely a personnel issue above our pay grades to weigh in on. This personnel action is nothing short of a line in the sand between corporate control and privatization of public resources. First the neoliberal corporate interests (both Dem. and Rep.) took over the political system to the effect of having the state defund the University of Virginia to a mere 10% of its operating budget. Rather than raise taxes they choked the public support of a public university.

    Now, when there is no public funding they stack the BOVs with corporate MBA types and demand a President go out and sell off the university to private donors and corporate interests (like Goildman-Sachs).

    Then, when the President, who has a professional allegiance to public education and the principles of TJ, pushes back against the corporate interest driven BOV, they arbitrarily fire her with no transparency, seemingly violating open meeting laws, no rationale other than a purely ideological one to corporatize and privatize a public resources

    I think there are rights here that do exist, and it is the right of every citizen to expect that a public institution be governed with democratic principles in a transparent manner. Enjoy your weekend as will I.

    I believe students and faculty have such a right. Harrigan doesn’t speak for all faculty and he can’t be 100% sure of anything. We will see what the faculty want to do after the meeting with the BOV.

    As far as reporters not following up on the angle of the legislature, I think the real story should be how the statute allows the appointment of nonrepresentative BOVs who are there basically because they contributed to a Gov’s campaign. What weget are big moneyed corporate types when what we need are faculty, students, and parents who come from a variety of economic backgrounds that represent the population of the Commonwealth. Its a public university, it belongs to the people of Virginia, it should be governed by a group that looks like Virginia and by some who understand what higher education is all about. I think the story angle should be people asking the legislature to s=change the way BOVs are appointed.

  • Well said, Truth to Power!

  • Part of what’s interesting about all this is how chasing donor dollars has had this absolutely corrosive effect to the character of this institution. The Morrisey suicide, the Love murder, and now the Sullivan ouster were all indirectly spurred by UVa’s greed.

    In all of these tragedies (or mere fiasco, in the most recent example), UVa’s compulsion was to please moneyed alumnus and/or parents. This resulted in institutional behavior where decisions were made based on the perceived financial interest of the institution, not on what was best for the people that make up the institution.

    In all three cases, good people were lost to UVa. In all three cases, UVa has shown itself to be an institution with character far below its ideals. Sullivan’s comments regarding the “reputation gap” resonate.

    Sullivan is better than UVa.

    As long as UVa values dollars above honorable and decent people, UVa’s reputation will sink.

  • groundsattwilight

    My impulse to synthesize when confronted with information gaps resulted in this take on the UVA situation, cobbled together across articles and insider accounts:

    President Sullivan, brought in on a high, followed through on her plans to make departments more accountable for spending, changing from the single purse model that has ruled Virginia since the beginning to the new financial model. This approach was favored or at the very least accepted across the university due to Sullivan’s ability to reach and engage a range of interested parties. It only alienated a few who felt threatened because they had been riding high on history (“reputation”) rather than current production or future promise in their departments: “In a number of critical areas we are reputed to be better than we actually are.”

    While this belief, stated in Sullivan’s May memo, was not enough to prompt her ouster, it is enough, in the days and weeks ahead, to insure that two factions will form at Virginia: those who are going to continue to demand transparency, review, and repair of the highly compromised BOV and those who simply want to put this behind the university and believe that, as Dragas requests, the university community “focus constructively forward in preparing the institution for its next stage of leadership and our shared commitment to quality and excellence in teaching, discovery, and patient care.”

    As for the ouster itself, here’s what seems to have happened. In light of Sullivan’s successes, I don’t believe the decision to engineer her departure involved the entire, or even most of, the BOV. As she moved through her second year, and as progress was being made on her financial model, a few members of the BOV, a small number of powerful alumni, and possibly one or two people in her own administration, began to see that if another academic year passed and tangible results of the new model began to be released, it would be impossible to take advantage of the climate of financial instability as they pushed through their own agenda, the hallmark of which is a privatized approach to digital education.

    I believe Sullivan was approached by and, in the words of another commentator elsewhere, “boldly rebuffed” several Darden alumni and/or members of the Board of Visitors who wanted to accelerate the revenue potential of online education. This acceleration demanded drawing instructors and infrastructure from corporate-driven adjunct searches and outsourced site architecture. In the May memo, Sullivan’s emphasis centered on the quality of the education at Virginia, more specifically the quality of teachers whose work is primarily with undergraduates. Whatever the revenue benefits, institutions wanting to both protect their brand and, far more importantly, preserve the educational experience of undergraduates, must proceed with deliberation and care as offer opportunities to earn credits through distance learning. Sadly, this sort of reasonable approach is not consistant with the trippy quality of “strategic dynamism.” The individuals approaching President Sullivan either wanted her to take on a strategically dynamic approach or, and I think this is the more likely scenario, they knew she wouldn’t. In either case, her rejection of a semi-privatized, accelerated model was enough to trigger her ouster.

    From here, I think several additional factors came into play. A “star” was either approached or expressed interest in the position. Whether a former President or a former member of a Presidential administration, I believe the intention was to bring this individual to Virginia with immediate and overwhelming fanfare in the belief that he or she is a significant enough “get” for the University that any concerns over President Sullivan’s departure would be forgotten, or at least significantly dampened. This person would serve the University in highly public, and ultimately superficial ways for two years while the semi-privatized approach was put into place as Virginia’s digital education offering, and then he or she would graciously resign to make way for another administrator emerging from academe.

    I believe the Governor of Virginia was either informed of what was happening by the University provost, or, more likely, knew that he didn’t know everything and was willingly shielded by probable deniability.

  • @Just saying

    Spot on and right to the core. Money changes everything. Corrosive effect great metaphor!!!

  • June 16: Formal Resolution of AAUP at its national meeting:

    “We join in the Senate Executive Council’s dismay that due process for President Sullivan and the legitimate interests of the UVA faculty have been ignored in the precipitate action taken by the Board of Visitors. We join in calling upon the board to reconsider its decision.”

    http://www.aaup.org/AAUP/newsroom/2012PRs/UVA.htm

  • Waldo, you aptly pointed out:

    Waldo Jaquith
    June 15, 2012 at 10:30 am
    Here’s an interesting little fact worth knowing. § 23-76 has the following to say about the UVA Board of Visitors:

    The board shall be charged with the care and preservation of all property belonging to the University. They shall appoint a president, with such duties as may be prescribed by the board, and who shall have supreme administrative direction under the authority of the board over all the schools, colleges and branches of the University wherever located, and they shall appoint as many professors as they deem proper, and, with the assent of two-thirds of the whole number of visitors, may remove such president or any professor.

    (That’s my emphasis.) Dragas didn’t need nine votes to fire Sullivan. She needed eleven. Not a majority of the BOV members who attended a meeting, but a majority of the “whole number”—sixteen.
    **************************************

    Harry Landers is also on the right track, to a degree; however, you both may be missing a very plausible explanation for what occurred.

    Since this debacle began, I considered the following scenario which may resonate. Please consider:

    * At some point in the not-too-distant past Dragas, et. al. decide for whatever reasons to effect a palace coup.

    * Dragas speaks individually with certain members of the BOV with whom she holds sway or believes she will be able to convince to support her position that Sullivan must go.

    * Note: According to WaPo, at least three members of the 16-person BOV were NOT privy to the campaign to remove Sullivan and only learned of it, as Sullivan did, in conversations with Dragas a week ago last Friday. As seen below, keeping these three individuals at bay is key to ensuring later implementation of Dragas’ plan.

    * In each of these one-off conversations (so as not to circumvent rules requiring meeting notices, etc.), Dragas reports to the person she is speaking with that others on the BOV are like-minded. She represents to each person that she has unanimous support for this action…not an action to summarily fire Sullivan (as that would ironically create a firestorm of controversy), but to express a unanimous vote of no confidence.

    * On Friday evening, Dragas approaches Sullivan to say that she (Dragas) has spoken to the BOV who are prepared to issue a vote of no confidence in Sullivan. Dragas willfullly and intentionally leads Sullivan to believe that this is the unanimous position of the BOV.

    * Dragas waits for Sullivan to consider this troubling news, following up with a suggestion that Sullivan may choose to exercise her option to resign…or possibly face a public vote of no confidence by the BOV.

    * Believing that the BOV en masse have decided that she must leave, Sullivan tenders her resignation to Dragas. Sullivan understandably does not want to put this to a public vote of the BOV.

    * After Dragas notifies members of the BOV that Sullivan has tendered her resignation, she (Dragas) calls an emergency meeting of the Executive Committee.

    * The purpose of the meeting is ONLY to move and accept the motion to accept Sullivan’s resignation. This meeting is a formality and nothing more. (Dragas must move quickly to call this meeting, as it is critical to quickly and formally accept Sullivan’s nomination. To delay would allow time for members of the BOV to consult with one another–something Dragas wants to avoid.)

    * It takes only a quorum of three members of the BOV’s Executive Committee to vote to accept Sullivan’s resignation.

    Done and done.

    What say you, adept readers?

  • I say accepting a resignation tendered in June to be effective in August does not constitute an emergency, therefore the executive committee meeting should have been publicized. It wasn’t. The actions taken at that meeting should be voided by their illegality.

  • Sounds plausible. Leaves out Kiernan, maybe Strine’s possible role and motives, maybe other leaders at UVA.

    As important are why Dragas decides to orchestrate a coup, the ideology behind it.

    More important, is: if all these probable and nefarious theories turn out to be the truth or close to the truth-what then shall we do?

    What action should we take as citizens, faculty members, community members, students, parents, donors?

    In the short run:

    E M E R G E N C Y

    open meeting of the Faculty Senate and all interested individuals

    To take place at 5 p.m. on Sunday, June 17 in the Darden Abbot Auditorium. Parking is in the garage to the right. Follow the signs to the auditorium.

    I believe there will be a rally outside the Rotunda at 2:30 on Monday before the BOV meeting and I believe the BOV will be holding a public meeting at 5 after its closed session meeting. I would encourage all to go to these events to voice your concerns.

    In the long run there needs to be some kind of action to change the way BOVs are appointed and operate.

  • I’m not seeing a lot regarding staff of the University–you know, the “worker bees”.

    Just a couple of thoughts:

    a) I know no one who is not absolutely bereft by this situation. Personally, I find myself in a vicious circle of emotions, going from agitated to angry and back again. I have gone through the week with a sense of paralysis. I would bet, this past week has been the least productive ever from the average staff person. There is a pall over Grounds. Should this travesty be allowed to play itself out without an in-depth investigation of the situation, the institution will be marred to a point that I will not see reconciled in my lifetime. All over arrogance and ego. Ah–Mr. Jefferson must be rolling over in his grave.

    b) Don’t hold out for Ed Ayers; I believe he has WAY more smarts and class than to get in the middle of this cluster. With this debacle, does the BOV think they could attract anyone of quality, much less greatness?? Only one w/an overwhelming pathetic arrogance could believe so…and therein lies the problem.

  • It seems that Rector Dragas thought accepting President Sullivan’s resignation immediately constituted an emergency.

    Inquiring minds want to know why.

  • Is there any hope of help internally from the three BOV members who were thought to be sympathetic to Sullivan, and thus were not contacted by Dragas? Is there any method by which members of the BOV can unseat a Rector, and presumably Vice Rector? It seems likely that there are at least three members who would be completely against the ouster and perhaps many more who did not know the import of whatever they agreed to in long, private conversations with Dragas and perhaps Kington. I just don’t know whether there is any useful lobbying to be done of individual members of the BOV in advance of their meeting Sunday. The reporting on the three uncontacted members, the outside help of Kiernan and other alums, and the machinations of the last ten days suggest a far from unified Board.

  • In all of these tragedies (or mere fiasco, in the most recent example), UVa’s compulsion was to please moneyed alumnus and/or parents. This resulted in institutional behavior where decisions were made based on the perceived financial interest of the institution, not on what was best for the people that make up the institution.

    “Just Saying,” I think you’re absolutely right about this. Of course, we don’t yet know why Sullivan was fired, but a clear theme has emerged here, and the simplest explanation is that it was for the same reason that these other tragedies have occurred. It is for this reason that I find it increasingly difficult to justify working for the University of Virginia.

    B. Ashburn, your proposed explanation for the Dragas’ apparent isolation of each member of the board makes a great deal of sense. That explanation had flitted about at the edge of my mind, but never solidified into an actual idea. Now that you explain it, it sure seems like a very simple, utterly plausible explanation.

    I would bet, this past week has been the least productive ever from the average staff person.

    “mlbitu,” I think you might be about right. (I didn’t work for the university back on September 11, 2001, but that might rival it.) I’ve observed a huge amount of loss of staff time because, as you explained, people are angry and confused. There’s a lot of time talking to co-workers, trying to understand what’s happened and, perhaps more important, what’s going to happen. After all, if the president can be tossed with two days’ notice, can’t the same be done to us?

  • Is there any method by which members of the BOV can unseat a Rector, and presumably Vice Rector?

    Anne, I don’t know the answer to that question, and I don’t have the time to hunt it down just now, but I’ll bet that it can be found in “The Manual of the Board of Visitors the University of Virginia.” Chapter 4 appears to address the selection of the Rector.

  • @anne…I hear “philosophical differences” is all you need to unseat anybody at UVA

  • Waldo,

    This is especially true after the Garcetti supreme Court case that denies free speech rights to public employees who sue for retribution for whistle blowing retribution or for speaking out against their employers. The conservatives have managed to use the Courts to squash free speech rights and public protest.

    See: http://www.aaup.org/AAUP/pubsres/academe/2011/JF/Feat/delf.htm

  • Has anyone seen the Call for the BOV Emergency Meeting on Monday?

    It’s my impression from serving on the Board of another Virginia institution that unless public comment is specifically prohibited at a meeting, it must be permitted. This is my impression but not a certainty. Anybody know?

  • JWS, I have not seen the Call for the BOV Emergency Meeting, although a notice is posted on the BOV website.

    I do recall that when the meeting was announced (in some on-line media), it was proactively stated that no public comment would be taken.

  • I’d like to be clear that there are a number of members of the University of Virginia community who support the decision of The Board of Visitors, the vast majority of whom are alums and know what’s best for UVA, versus the vision of a first-time university President, non-alum and someone with no prior experience at our beloved University. These individuals may not be speaking up because of the outrage regarding the egregious and unfair nature of her dismissal, which the Board admits, they are out there, and I hope more will step up and show solidarity with our fellow alums, those that believe The University is better served over the long-term under the stewardship of another individual.

  • Here’s Seth’s post, run through the Hill & Knowlton de-bullsh1t-ifier:

    Blah blah number of members [vague–“one” is a number] blah blah support BOV blah blah know what’s best for UVA [shut up and bow before them, they know what’s best] blah blah our beloved University blah blah blah they’re all cowards but they’re out there blah blah solidarity blah long-term blah stewardship.

    Those are some nice multi-syllabic words, Seth, but your last sentence is a train wreck when it comes to correct punctuation. If you graduated from UVa, you should go back and demand another writing class, because you were ill-served.

  • I’d like to be clear that there are a number of members of the University of Virginia community who support the decision of The Board of Visitors, the vast majority of whom are alums and know what’s best for UVA, versus the vision of a first-time university President, non-alum and someone with no prior experience at our beloved University.

    By “number” you mean…six? (That is a number, after all.) Or six thousand? If that number is greater than six, how do you know that this silent majority exists?

    With this statement, you’re implicitly saying that those who disagree with the board’s actions (such as two prior presidents of the university and the provost) do not know what’s best for UVA, whereas you do, by virtue of your special status and relationship to it. Do you really mean that?

    I hope more will step up and show solidarity with our fellow alums

    More than…what? Because, right now, I know of exactly zero people who have “stepped up” to support the BOV’s actions, other than those who are actually involved in orchestrating Sullivan’s dismissal.

  • And what, precisely, could have motivated Dragas to begin plotting to overthrow Sullivan when Terry had barely begun her work? Envy? Malice? Thirst for power at any cost? I am reminded of the Medici Family during the Renaissance–whispering campaigns and poisons. There is more to this than meets the eye–or the nose.

  • Carolyn, really, you’re using your liberal arts education (Medicis? Who are they and why do we care?) in a feeble attempt to overcome a solid, American, business education derived concept of the universe. Srsly, nothing exists beyond this quarter’s bottom line. Did you get neither the memo nor the tweet?

  • You know, in an uber-fashion, I wonder how the Wisconsin recall failure has played into all of this. Unions (and Faculty Senates) can be ignored because, you know, this is what the ‘people’ (whom we’ve used our corporate free-speech $$$ to influence) want. They want what we (the Dragas’ et al) want.

    It’s all hubris. Thank heaven that reference will be gone when we eliminate the classics.

  • Dear Barbara: You are absolutely right. I was flaunting my ignorance of today’s business model by referring to a bunch of dead guys–and gals–who spoke a useless language–Italian–and painted pictures. Incredibly, sometimes they painted on the same picture for *years*! If that’s not contrary to the spirit of strategic dynamism, I don’t know what is.

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