Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Alumni Relations

Having spent six years at the University of Virginia (with a two year break for military service) I have many fond memories of that institution and Charlottesville.  I also recall its considerable shortcomings such as its refusal to admit women to the undergraduate college until after I graduated and its still limited admission of African-American students, not to mention its devotion to sports (like every other college in this nation).  So I am not a dyed-in-the-wool alumni booster.  Nor do I spend much time thinking about what's happening there.

But the recent attempt by a small coterie of the Board of Visitors to fire the university president, Teresa Sullivan, after two years on the job grabbed my attention.  It's been a front page story on the Washington Post website daily for over two weeks and the more I read about the reasons for Sullivan's dismissal, the less justified it seemed.  Sullivan's opponents never gave a coherent argument for seeking her dismissal, offering instead vague statements about philosophical differences couched in B-school platitudes.  The lack of coherence and failure to communicate with the university community led to a firestorm of opposition.

Two weeks on, the Board finally took a vote and, amazingly, voted unanimously to reinstate Sullivan.  I don't know if Sullivan is or is not ultimately the best president for the university but I do know that the Board acted precipitously and arrogantly in its secret deliberations.  I'm pleased to see that they finally came to their senses.




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