With the forced resignation by the BOV, I am wondering what UVA will have to pay to satisfy the terms of Sullivan's remaining contract. I believe her contract was for 5 years, which means that early termination would require some sort of settlement.
Another question concerns the BOV bylaws. Boards are governed by their bylaws, so whether this was a coup or not, it was probably done "by the book" in accordance with the bylaws, otherwise the Board would open itself up to legal challenge. However, I doubt the 3 person quorum because any competent legal counsel would not permit that kind of questionable action. It would be revealing to see the bylaws governing the BOV.
My read of the Rector's statement is that Sullivan was not making hard decisions fast enough to keep up with the economic realities confronting UVA. But I am totally disgusted that they would force her resignation without a contingency plan in place - that seems irresponsible.
We have no idea what specific changes the Board wanted Sullivan to make faster. Did they want her to slash departments and majors? Did they want UVa to start offering degrees that you could complete entirely online?
I'm still interested in the theory that Ken Cuccinelli was behind this coup, especially because it came to a head in the last couple months. Cuccinelli's father spent a lifetime as an executive in the natural gas industry.
- Professor Michael Mann is the bogeyman of climate change deniers. Mann recently published a book about Cuccinelli's attacks upon him.
- Then, UVa aggressively fought Cuccinelli's demands to see over 15,000 emails involving a former climate research professor. At the time, Sullivan had the support of the Board of Visitors in this legal fight, but many of those members were subsequently replaced by Republican appointees.
- UVa then won the case against Cuccinelli in the State Supreme Court.
- It is then leaked that UVa is about to offer an endowed professorship to Professor Mann to have him return to UVa.
- Then, a couple months ago, UVa had the chutzpah to submit a proposed budget to the Va. Legislature asking to be reimbursed by the state for the $576,000 in legal costs they incurred fighting Cuccinelli.
This was not a small dispute, but was a messy drawn out battle that must of claimed much of Cuccinelli's time and which involved scientific organizations and organizations espousing academic freedom throughout the US.
Given the above, I am guessing they will be working out a settlement.
I am in total agreement with you about the irresponsibility of the BOV in acting without a contingency plan. If they thought that Terry Sullivan was 'harming' the university in some way (which I disagree based on facts available), their clown act has the potential to do so much more harm.
"I'm curious, has there ever been a public university that has attempted to do this at the undergraduate level? The concept, to me, seems a bit out of the realm of possibility which is why I ask."
Only professional schools have officially privatized so far. For whole universities, the privatization is happening incrementally and de facto. State support goes down year after year, so OOS enrollment and tuition go up every year. Proposals have been floated to privatize Michigan and Colorado (only 5% state funding and 45% OOS enrollment).
I love UVA and would hate to see it go private (TJ and all that), but something has to give. Almost all of UVA's US News ranking decline (10 slots) since the mid-90s is due to the withdrawal of state support. US News has a financial resources factor. UCLA ranks 23; UNC and UW 30; UM 36; Cal 43, Ga Tech 52; UVA 64. You can't stay a top flight state school if you don't get adequate support from your state (but are still subject to operating restrictions).
Sullivan's ouster seems to be a disagreement over how to respond to UVA's financial situation. UVA is now 70% in-state enrollment but only 5-10% state funded. If she goes back to UM, she'd have 60% in-state enrollment and 17% state funding. So even as depressed as the state of Michigan is, UM is stronger financially than UVA. So are the UCs (at least for now).
Last edited by northwesty; 06-12-2012 at 12:00 PM.
ChrisTKD is right. We will probably never learn the precise reasons for this unexpected turn of events. So those of us with the the time to spend on message boards can fulminate on all sorts of theories about President Sullivan's ouster, but we will likely never know the full reason or whether it meets our definition of "justified."
That said, I do fault the BOV on their handling of this. I agree wholeheartedly with a commenter on the Washington Post board, that, "[T]he UVa Visitors have shown surprising lack of acumen in the way they have handled what may be a justifiable change. Their job is to hire and fire the president--but to do it in good taste and with unusual finesse. In this respect the Visitors have failed . . . ."
I also agree with blueiguana -- show us the plan for going forward!
Last edited by AVA55; 06-12-2012 at 12:07 PM.
Reason: typo II
It is interesting to see UVa pleading poverty when it has an $5 billion endowment and the highest endowment per student by far of any public university in the country.
We also are hearing complaints because the latest fundraising campaign ONLY raised $2.6 BILLION. UVa also makes a fortune each year in profits from the health system, much of which goes into the academic programs. Almost every other public university in the nation would love to have UVa's financial "problems." Yes, UNC gets more money from their state, but we have to accept that life is unfair.
Even though state support is decreasing, it would take a few billion dollars of additional endowment to make up for the loss of the annual revenue that is provided by the state of Va. Also, while there are plenty of qualified out of state applicants, the quality of in-state students would greatly decline if UVa was not affordable. Many Virginia high school grads turn down Ivy-level schools to go to UVa because it is affordable - particularly if they are considering other top universities that don't offer merit aid.
One of the reasons that UVa is not rated higher in US News is because UVa does not spend as much per student as the top universities. US News actually rewards inefficiency and waste.
I completely agree with you Northwesty. Also, what one should note is that state is not only cutting back on funding but also making more demands on UVA to limit tuition increases (particularly in-state). Something has to give! UVA is in a no win situation at present when it comes to state politics. Your analogy of Princeton/Penn State is right on target.
Financially, UVA is up a creek without a paddle as they say unless something changes. Don't forget how many faculty are retiring in the next few years and the financial burden it will be to replace them.
I personally think the state government is being extremely myopic in expecting UVA to maintain or grow their academic prestige but limit and curtail the amount of funds they (the State) allocate to the school. Not only will our ranking suffer, but under the current environment, if we hemorrhage quality faculty (as there has been a 4 year freeze in salaries) what will happen to our University in terms of the quality of education???
I don't blame the administration at all if they were to look at privatization. The State government has given them little choice. Mr. Jefferson would be appalled....!
"It is interesting to see UVa pleading poverty when it has an $5 billion endowment and the highest endowment per student by far of any public university in the country."
UVA needs that big endowment (which is the Princeton side of the house) because it gets less funding from the Penn State side than its peers. The endowment actually provides more funding to UVA than the state does. And it will probably have to be more like that in the future.
If UVA's funding is more like Princeton than Penn State, then its tuition and enrollment mix will also have to go more in that direction too. Or if Richmond doesn't let UVA operate more like Princeton, then UVA's quality and reputation will have to go down.
UVa basically has frozen total spending and staffing levels in its academic budget that was recently adopted. 40% of the tuition increase was eaten up by an increase in financial aid.
There has been a huge increase in international undergrad students over the last couple decades, who are not eligible for financial aid from UVa.
One of the coupmembers was upset because research funding to the U. slightly dropped. President Sullivan said it was expected because research funding by federal stimulus dollars expired. Fundraising was up from the last year.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch article said that Rector Dragas has her term expire on the board on July 1. As of a few days ago, the Governor had not yet informed her about whether she will be re-appointed. One theory is that she wanted to force out Sullivan while she still could. Another theory is that she had to do what she was told to do in order to get re-appointed.
The UVa Hospitals make only a modest profit of 4.7% on actual revenues and that is falling. Most of that has to be reinvested in new equipment and maintaining the old. The UVa budget is a wonderful document-best I have seem, that spells out all the positives and negatives of UVa's finances. The core education and research areas are barely growing and research is now expected to decline. This impacts all areas as reearch overhead covers many costs across the university. It also explains how the "private" law and business schools work financially.
Excellent opinion piece posted today. Every word is worth reading. Here's excepts:
"The victim was Teresa Sullivan, one of the most respected academics in the United States, who had become the first female president ever of a major public university. In her two years at U-Va., she had been a breath of fresh air by reaching out to students, faculty and researchers and trying to keep the best traditions of university education alive.
Not according to the school’s Board of Visitors, however. They are 16 politically appointed men and women whose claim to fame is typically business success and large campaign contributions to various governors. Hardly any has a strong academic background. The board’s rector, Helen E. Dragas, who did the dirty work on Sullivan, is a rich real estate developer from Virginia Beach.
Dragas and Mark J. Kington... called Sullivan to a meeting Friday and asked for her resignation. Sullivan gave it the next day. Three Board of Visitors members accepted it. The entire board never voted on her ouster.
There very well could be a political aspect to her ousting. Conservatives have a vision of online teaching, in which schools cut back on supposed “waste and inefficiency” by making their classes available online, sometimes through for-profit companies they back. Traditionalist professors worry that too much online teaching will ruin instruction. It could be that the board thought Sullivan was moving too slowly on turning U-Va. into DeVry or the University of Phoenix, the for-profit firms that have turned expensive online courses into a cottage industry."
Having the undergrad college go private would be highly inconsistent with Thomas Jefferson's ideals in founding the university and I doubt that will be seriously contemplated regardless of the Board's latest actions.
Wisconsin had already had two female Chancellors (=president) before Sullivan and I respectfully would say UW is certainly a leading public university by any measure. Fact check much WAPO? I also believe the UM president was in place before Sullivan left-also female.
As everyone seeks answers for what is really happening, it is valuable to remember the words that President Sullivan offered to the U.Va community after the story broke about the apparent coverup of the pedophilia scandal at Penn State:
"I do believe that tone at the top is important, and I have sought to send a message to this community that respect for the individual, doing the right thing, caring for one another and making every decision with consideration for our values are how we will do business. Not everyone will agree with how I enact these values. There are inevitably conflicts between individuals, or disagreements about resource allocation, in which each side will claim that their position is the righteous one and I have been hypocritical.
That is why we need good processes. A good process leads to good decisions because it requires us to call to mind the important considerations that precede the decision. A good hiring process leads us to consider values such as expertise, diversity, and character. A good personnel evaluation process leads us to offer honest feedback about an employee’s performance, just as grading gives us an opportunity to provide feedback to a student.
Finally, individuals may fail and processes may fail. That is why we need good systems."
The piece charlie posted IS NOT a WaPo editorial. It is the post of a local Va blogger that WaPo runs pieces from once in a while. For what that is worth.
IF Cuccinelli were governor, maybe the climate stuff could be an issue in this, but he his not. So I think it is a stretch to contend the AG is behind this action . . . . This is a problem, but not of the "vast right-wing conspiracy" type.
I think there is, somewhat justifiably, a concern that at many institutions the far left is in control. At many universities the current tenured profs control hiring so there little chance for radical left departments to be moderated. That leaves few moderates or, gasp, even conservatives to move up the chain in faculty governance, further radicalizing higher ed. That said, to me one of the many positive attributes of UVa is that the radicals are NOT in control. Indeed, UVa, compared to its peers, is far more moderate -- though it is by no means a "conservative" institution. UVa is just less far-left than the average US college or university. Accordingly, this action by the BOV is unlikely to have been precipitated by a desire to oust "the radicals" by reducing the need for face-to-face teaching.
At the end of the day, it is likely that the split really came down to pace of change. There is probably no way to measure right now whose pace was better, Sullivan's or the BOV's. That might be what Dragas meant by her "vindication in the future" comment . . . .
One thing is for sure in all this, the BOV needed help with strategic communication and now, also, with crisis-management communication. They created a mess, whether the ouster was justified or not. For the good of the University, the BOV needs to start repairing the damage they caused. Maybe one of the three upcoming appointees needs to be skilled in crisis management.