"Besides broad philosophical differences, they had at least one specific quibble: They felt Sullivan lacked the mettle to trim or shut down programs that couldn’t sustain themselves financially, such as obscure academic departments in classics and German." —The Washington Post, 16 June 2012
"The University of Virginia has a long and storied history, one steeped with a strong sense of the values upon which it was founded. Above all else, we belong to an institution of honor and honesty, of openness and respect. And it is under these values that we deem the current state of information on President Sullivan’s departure wholly untenable. The University of Virginia community is entitled to more information. The statements by the Board of Visitors and other University officials up to this point have been abstract, unclear, and at times contradictory. The University of Virginia Student Council is not taking sides or placing blame, yet we feel it is our duty to provide every student at the University of Virginia the clarity and understanding they are owed." —University of Virginia Student Council to the Board of Visitors, June 12, 2012
Everyone concerned with the future of higher ed should be following the unfolding events at the University of Virginia, where the current president, the sociologist Teresa Sullivan, was recently forced out by the Board of Visitors under mysterious circumstances. Well liked by a broad constituency of faculty and students and having served less than two years, Sullivan was surprised to be asked to resign; the Rector of the Board, Helen Dragas, has offered few statements to the press on the matter. The sense I'm getting from the UVa people I know is that the community is shocked by the development and even more shocked by the lack of transparency with which the move was made. I recommend the UVa media studies professor Siva Vaidhanathan's recent article in Slate, "Strategic Mumblespeak." The Washington Post's recent "U-Va board leader wanted Teresa Sullivan to make cuts" also gives excellent background. Some other sources:
- Charlottesville's The Hook argues that Sullivan's removal was an attempt by the Board to secure major donations from a UVa alum, Paul Tudor Jones: "'Important alum': Donor Jones had role in Sullivan ouster"
- WUVA: "Students and faculty respond to Sullivan's resignation"
- The Virginian-Pilot offers an adorably Hampton Roads-centric account: "U.Va. board leader silent about ouster of president." The Rector of the Board, Helen Dragas, is from Hampton Roads (as am I).
- UVa's Cavalier Daily: "Student Council, College faculty criticize Board’s handling of Sullivan’s resignation"
- Many of the Visitors opposed to Sullivan have ties to or are alumni of the Darden School of Business at UVa. The Dean of the Darden School of Business, Robert Bruner, issued a memo to donors and alumni addressing some of the recent developments.
- In UVa Magazine: a number of official statements by faculty and deans, as well as alumni responses in the comments
- There's a community petition to reinstate Sullivan, currently at 2267 signatures.
- Does the AAUP have something to say about this? For sure.
An even more complete round-up of sources on the developing events is at Inside Higher Ed. President Sullivan is expected to address the Board of Visitors in a closed meeting (closed upon the Board's stipulation) on Monday. Faculty and students are planning to gather on the Lawn to show their support for Sullivan.