Friday, June 22, 2012

Hopeful Signs at UVA

A meeting of the Board of Visitors of the University of Virginia has been scheduled for next Tuesday at 3PM for the express purpose of revisiting the ouster of Teresa Sullivan.  BOV members Hunter Craig and Heywood Fralin spent the better part of the week lining up what they think are a majority of the BOV in support of returning Sullivan to her post.  This is truly good news for the University and could spark a renewal of the sense of community that UVA has made its trademark.

While tempers have flared and some things have been said and done that one might wish had not, by and large, discourse between those who disagree has been remarkably civil.  One hopes that if Sullivan is returned, then a process of healing can begin that would include olive branches to Helen Dragas, Marc Kington, and others who are seen as central figures in this drama.  The University needs all of its alumni, not just those who might end up the winners in this tragedy.  Forgiveness, reconciliation, and goodwill should be the goals of the returning administration and, from my observations of President Sullivan, I think she will lead the University in that direction when she returns to the presidency.

If there are "philosophical differences" about the future of the University, let's discuss them  -- in the open and with candor.  Future board meetings should be about real issues, not shunting the real disagreements off to private emails and behind the scenes conversations.  We can disagree and still have a community.  Let's try open discussion.  No one has a monopoly on truth or vision.  Let's explore online education.  Set up a task force to look into this topic and let's begin a serious look at this issue and other issues that seemed to trigger the current crisis at the University.

The University could emerge a better place if President Sullivan is reinstated, if we begin to think seriously about how to improve governance, and if we forgive those with whom we disagree.