The mess at UVA
Here's a statement from the Dean of the Undergraduate Business School, Carl Zeithaml, the interim President as of last night's extraordinary board meeting, on the events. Read the whole thing for some priceless* mealy-mouthed Dean-speak as processed through a business jargon grinder. Here's the sentence I thought was the most hilarious:
At this time, we should rely on one of our most important assets: our strong sense of community.
If you've read the two links above, you know that a three-person faction on the University Board (the board of visitors), led by a Hampton Roads real estate developer:
1. Gave the ousted President, Sullivan, a mediocre performance review but put nothing in writing;
2. With a quorum of three (themselves), and with none of the other thirteen board members present, voted the President out;
3. With no notice;
4. Giving no public reason;
5. While claiming the meeting where they voted to fire Sullivan was emergency meeting, although it didn't meet the statutory criteria for such a meeting, circumventing public notice rules.
I don't have a lot of sympathy for academic administrators (up here in the Great State of Maine, one-third of the budget is sucked up by "the system," even though nobody can explain what it does) but those process violations are egregious. Great universities don't change leadership with boardroom coups.
"Community," my sweet Aunt Fanny. The people outside the closed boardroom doors, waiting to hear the fate of their university, are the community, not the dull-witted and intransigent board members, who could easily have done the right thing, and if they were unhappy with President Sullivan, change the leadership using a deliberative and open process, rather than a sleazy putsch orchestrated by second-rate minds.
NOTE * Or priceful; the Board has retained Hill and Knowlton to handle clean-up and decontamination.
NOTE One of the things UVA's board wants to do is get rid of the German and Classics Departments. Which is odd, given that Berlin and Athens are key players in the current financial crisis. It's as if the elite are determined on blinding themselves, as they drag the rest of us over the cliff with them.
UPDATE Teh stupid -- it b-u-r-n-n-n-s!
One of the key complaints of the board members who orchestrated the ouster of Teresa A. Sullivan as president of the University of Virginia was that she rebuffed their suggestions that she eliminate or sharply cut German programs, sources familiar with the discussions have told Inside Higher Ed. The Washington Post on Sunday reported that one of the most specific disagreements between board members and Sullivan was their view that she "lacked the mettle to trim or shut down programs that couldn't sustain themselves financially, such as obscure academic departments in classics and German."
Jeebus. I can't think of any reason for speaking German or Greek.
UPDATE Here is Rector Dragas's statement, translated into English. It's better than Zeithaml's!!!