Monday, June 18, 2012

On the Uproar at UVA

I have thus far resisted comment on the goings-on at UVA, primarily because of a considerable lack of information upon which to base an opinion, but also out of a personal sense of embarrassment that a place that I love has once again found itself in the news for all the wrong reasons.  I have no idea whether or not fired President Teresa Sullivan was doing a good job.  I am simply not close enough to the University to have an informed view on the subject.  I do know that she was generally well-thought of by people I respect who are close to the subject, and I do know that I did not hear a single discordant word about her during the weekend festivities two weeks ago in conjunction with my 25th Reunion. 

But this is what I do know.  I know that the removal of President Sullivan was the result of palace intrigue, rather than the result of a deliberate and transparent process within the Board of Visitors en banc.  I know that a University that has justifiably taken pride in its honor system appears now to have acted dishonorably.  I know that I am proud of the University community coming together as it appears it is, in order to demand of those responsible some accountability.  And I know that the silence of Governor McDonnell (who is apparently on a trade delegation abroad through Wednesday) only deepens this muck.

There is a distinct possibility that President Sullivan was under-performing and was worthy of being sacked.  If such were the case, then the Board of Visitors had a responsibility to remove her from her position.  There are however, procedures in place by which a responsible Board could effect such an action.  These actions were not taken, and the current Board of Visitors must be held accountable.  To that end, I offer up the following recommendations:

1.  Governor McDonnell should appoint a three person panel consisting of Virginians of note to conduct an investigation of the conduct of the Board of Visitors.  The panel should have wide-ranging authority to compel testimony, but should have no more than 30 days to perform its duties.
2.  The panel should report to the governor on the following subjects:  1) whether the firing of President Sullivan was reasonable.  2) whether the actions of the Board of Visitors were consistent with policy, procedure and precedent.  3)  What remediation is in order.
3.  Prior to beginning this investigation, Governor McDonnell should ask for the resignations of all members of the current Board of Visitors.  Those found in the investigation to have violated the trust of the University will have their resignations subsequently accepted. 
4.  Any BOV members whose resignations are accepted would be replaced by someone nominated by the Governor who appointed them.  In the case of this Board, all members were either nominated by Governor McDonnell or former Governor Kaine. 

It strikes me that it would be very difficult for President Sullivan to return her job; but should the panel decide that is warranted, she should be retained.

This is a sad time for The University.  Active, positive steps must now be taken to firmly fix responsibility and accountability, in order to re-establish trust with an alienated University Community. 


Tom de Plume said...

"The University"? Is there something going on up in Newark, Delaware that I don't know about?

Mudge said...

"Governor McDonnell should appoint a three person panel consisting of Virginians of note to conduct an investigation of the conduct of the Board of Visitors."

Please revise your above recommendation to "ordinary Virginians"; I am far too busy right now to have to deal with such falderal and I try ever so hard to refrain from having to tell the Governor "no."

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