The events of the past two weeks at UVa have proved to be very controversial and influential to the current and future community of the University. As of now, all students have heard, or should have heard, about the resignation of President Sullivan. There has been great public outcry to the Board of Visitor’s opaque reasoning for their decision and their continued repression of a necessary explanation.
President Sullivan is an admired leader among the faculty and students at the University of Virginia and although novel in her presidential position, had forged a path that envisioned great growth and development in the future of UVa. Throughout the BOV’s statements to the public, they have mentioned “philosophical differences” shared with President Sullivan and the need for a new leader who can effectively achieve the board’s aspirations. These concerns are voiced in remarks from Helen Dragas, the UVa Rector, at a meeting with vice presidents and deans on June 11th, 2012.
“We want UVA to remain in that top echelon of universities well into the 21st century and beyond. We want this to be a place that lives up to Mr. Jefferson’s founding vision of excellence. We want it to be a place that attracts the best and the brightest in scholarship, teaching, patient care, and community service.
To achieve these aspirations, the board feels the need for a bold leader who can help develop, articulate, and implement a concrete and achievable strategic plan to re-elevate the University to its highest potential. We need a leader with a great willingness to adapt the way we deliver our teaching, research, and patient care to the realities of the external environment. We need a leader who is able to passionately convey a vision to our community, and effectively obtain gifts and buy-in towards our collective goals.”
Throughout this discourse, the board’s aspirations and requirements for a new leader infer the lack of these characteristics in President Sullivan. However, with such significant and serious concerns expressed and the inference that President Sullivan is not meeting them, one would imagine that this opinion would be shared widely throughout the faculty at UVa. This, however, is not the case. Many faculty members are outraged at the BOV’s decision, not only in the opacity of details but also because they believe that President Sullivan is a qualified and successful leader at UVa.
Because of the contrasting opinions and lack of necessary information, one is forced to make assumptions as to why the BOV would come to such a decision. Is there a political aspect to the decision that the university community is not aware of? What are these “philosophical differences” that are expressed? Why is information being held back from the University’s community? With no answer to these questions, it is not difficult to understand the public’s dismay and outrage towards to the BOV and concerns that the lack of co-operation and transparency is damaging to the future of the University and it’s reputation.
By Arrianne Talma, Managing Editor