listening to charlottesville

The decision this week by the University Virginia Board of Visitors to reinstate President Teresa Sullivan, after her forced resignation less than three weeks ago and the subsequent student and faculty revolt, will echo through the halls of American public universities. Like many others, I’ve been riveted. My three cents:

1. I cannot recall where I heard this observation, but the emails exchanged between the conspirators in the months leading to Sullivan’s forced resignation (made public through an information request by the Cavalier Daily) are a case study in the perils of management by op-ed. Forwarding articles from the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, with breathless commentary like, “why we can’t afford to wait” does not constitute strategic thinking.

2. UVA receives less than 10 percent of its funding from the Commonwealth of Virginia, but the governor basically exercises unilateral authority over its Board.

3. Between the media coverage, discussing events with others, and honestly my own response to the narrative, the role of two powerful women, Sullivan and Dragas, has had a fascinating impact on the public response. Most of all, it’s complicated. Personally, I thought Petula Dvorak’s Queen Bee theory was particularly moronic.

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