Tuesday, June 26, 2012

It Isn't Over till it's Over, UVA

I stood in the crowd and sang the Good Ol' Song as I was glad that Pres. Sullivan had been reinstated. She was doing a fine job with the tough hand she had been dealt before the events of the last sixteen days. To want that job back after what she's been through speaks to her honor, grace, and determination -- all solid Virginia values.

But I don't think this episode can be over yet. The University is still under investigation from our accrediting agency given the underhanded way in which Pres. Sullivan was originally asked to leave. The person who orchestrated the whole opaque scheme remains in her position as rector. Gov. McDonnell has the choice to reappoint her by Friday.

I am a Christian. I believe in forgiveness. I do believe that Ms. Dragas thought she was acting in the best interests of the University. But I also believe in stewardship. The people of Virginia have asked Ms. Dragas to be a steward of the University and she mismanaged that stewardship. Admitting a mistake is not enough to correct it. Until Ms. Dragas leaves the Board of Visitors, we have no real reason to believe that the Board of Visitors has learned anything about the value of transparency and community buy-in.

I think this situation has given us an opportunity to talk about a lot of things -- the political nature of the make-up of the Board of Visitors, the need for a voting faculty member (and perhaps a voting student, as well), and just what FOIA laws mean in terms of closed meetings (note that there was room to make a personnel decision in front of everyone today). Before those conversations can continue, however, the University needs to be healed as a community. I do not see how that can happen until Ms. Dragas leaves.

If the board's vote of support for Ms. Dragas was a kind way to let her save face until she steps down on Friday, they have done something civil. If the vote signals an intention to allow someone capable of such mismanagement to remain in power for another two years, I cannot in good faith donate to the University until Ms. Dragas is gone and more sensible leadership installed. If you feel the same way, I encourage you to let Gov. McDonnell know. I reckon we'll see what happens later this week!

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