The changes the University of Virginia must make: Support for Board of Visitors
Interesting op-ed in The Washington Post, supporting the Board of Visitors. It’s useful to read and get a broader perspective on the debate on President Sullivan’s ouster. The argument seems to be that Universities must change, and the trustees have the responsibility to force that change. Forcing a resignation in closed meetings is not a good first step towards these changes. We need imaginative problem-solving to figure a path from where we’re at today in US Universities.
Now, the Board of Visitors has now reversed itself and reinstated Sullivan. Reportedly, Rector Dragas and President Sullivan met to resolve their differences. I’d like to hear what decisions they arrived at (or, the decision was simply forced by higher authorities). The tension between their perspectives is one felt throughout higher education, and it would be useful to others to hear a plan for moving forward.
Given the university’s failure to address urgent issues such as greater faculty teaching loads, new technologies, using buildings more effectively and eliminating unproductive or outdated courses, it’s no wonder that a board concerned with spiraling costs could not continue working with a president who approached business as usual, hoping for change later.
If institutions want to remain strong, their trustees must demand innovative and imaginative changes and be aware of the urgency of their task. If a university president is not moving in the same direction, then difficult decisions must be made and trustees are going to have to bear the inevitable pushback. This is not the first time that trustees have come under fire for trying to do their job: Last fall, trustees at the University of Texas and Texas A&M found themselves under attack when they started to examine faculty teaching loads and the balance of research and teaching.