Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Sullivan is Back at UVA

The University of Virginia Board of Visitors reversed itself yesterday and reinstated Teresa Sullivan as the university's president, an announcement greeted by cheers from student protesters and whoops of triumph from some faculty.

Now what?

If I were the governor, I would fire the whole board, something he threatened to do last week. Certainly Rector Helen Dragas has to go; how can she and Sullivan work together in the future? More broadly, what authority will the board now have to do anything?

And what authority will the president have, beholden as she is to the faculty and students for her job?

An optimist might hope that this event will inspire everyone to work together to find new ways to teach better  while spending less, but such an optimist would be mad. Likely the event will inspire greater caution and inertia in everyone. Rising costs and declining learning will remain the order of the day. As I said before, I don't think the president of UVA can do much about these trends herself, but it would be nice to hear her talk about how to make sure the students learn instead of how to shore up the university's reputation.


Thomas said...

I was only vaguely aware of this story, and searching doesn't seem to have given me the context: Why was she forced to resign in the first place? Was it a naked power grab?

John said...

The Rector, head of the board, forced her out for reasons that are not entirely clear, but had something to do with the president's lack of "strategic vision" and lack of a plan for using online learning to reduce costs. The board came across like a board of businessmen from a hollywood movie, talking meaninglessly about strategic vision.

Thomas said...

Ah, then the only paranoid conspiracy I can see is that they had a particular technology "partner" they had in mind to provide the online course-ware. Growing up in Chicago, when you see something like this, you always think "graft." It being Virginia, it could also have been "religious jerks."