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Teresa Sullivans Statement to the BOV

  • Perhaps you should read my post. A reversal of a five hundred year historic trend in global wealth allocation is not a whim of the marketplace or a fad. It is a major, historic, inevitable, and obvious trend that is taking place. The demand for engineers of all kind is also not a fad or a these emerging markets have more wealth, their demand for better lives and infrastructure is going to drive global investment and the global economy. The hard sciences will be in very, very, very high demand. Either the University of Virginia is at the forefront of preparing its graduates for that reality, or it isn't. If UVA wants its students to study German or Italian so they can go see the remnants of a great civilization and economy in Europe and speak and think fluently and knowledgably about it, that's great. If UVA wants its students in Singapore and Hong Kong and Sao Paulo on the cutting edge of building new economies that are going to dominate the world market, they can do that too. But there might be a might not be able to afford both.

    Also, I should add, if we're only talking about the possibility of developing a Mandarin program, we're behind already. That should have happened years ago. What about Hindi? Or Vietnamese? Or Thai? Or even Cambodian? Thanks to the Khmer Rouge, Cambodia has a very young population, and although most people think of the killing fields when it comes to Cambodia, a young population makes for a growing economy. Those young Cambodians are going to want TV's, air conditioning, meat in their diets, iphones, men and women are going to find ways to get those things to those people and profit. The Cambodians aren't going to want insight into the Classics. They want things. Things to own and things to eat and places to live in and drive around. The people who bring these things to these emerging markets are going to be fabulously wealthy. There's a lot of ground to cover between Thailand and Vietnam and even the lifestyle of Korea, let alone America. In closing that gap is enormous opportunity. The people with the knowledge and skill to provide for their fellow man the goods and services he desires will be enriched by their grateful customers. The people who sit back and study worthless stuff for their own satisfaction are going to end up in Zuccotti Park, pissed off because they can't find a job. I think the University needs to think long and hard about what role it wants to take in the 21st century. I don't know all the answers, but I do know that people who are up in arms over losing the German department need a reality check.

    Again, this is not an endorsement of the firing of Sullivan. That may or may not have been the right decision, and it was certainly handled in the wrong way. I'm talking strictly about the directions of departmental offerings at the University.

    This post has been edited 2 times, most recently by Hoos Inc 22 months ago

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  • We did have pretty capable leaders in some of those disciplines. Dean Z for example is fantastic (I say this as a Comm school graduate). It's really hard to make sense of this. Unless you are in the departments you don't really know. I think having departments that are less commercial do serve a role. How will we reclaim #1 public university if we don't offer the same classes Cal does? Getting back to that level would be fantastic and I don't think fundraising alone and University of Phoenix online classes will get us there. That being said I hear where you are coming from. In my view we ultimately have to raise tuition and get more out-of-state to increase funding, but that is obviously not a popular view with VA politicians. The state funding has been pathetic for many years now. If you look at the most successful parts of UVA (McIntire, Darden) you can see a trend though

  • Guys I think we are missing the real point here which is how is all this academic uncertainty going to affect our chances with Da'Shawn Hand?

    This post was edited by MikeV 22 months ago


  • I can't defend everything about Bill Wulf's actions. I got a little uncomfortable myself when he started listing his achievements, it seemed very self-serving. But the fact is that this is a BOV out of control. Only Heywood Fralin, and perhaps Messrs. Hardie and Caputo, seemed to grasp the seriousness of the board's actions. It's absolutely plain they "heard" the faculty's statement of no confidence and just didn't care. Apparently it finally dawned on Mark Kington today.

    But this is the sort of thing it will take. Will it hurt the students? Perhaps. But as resignations go, Wulf's is ideal and is probably beneficial in the long run if it fired a large enough shot across the bow. He's in his 70s and was like three-quarters retired anyway. He's highly respected and has a list of distinguishments as long as your arm. And because he taught like one class, the actual effect of his departure is minimal, but the symbolic effect is enormous.

    There are consequences, sure, and his resignation email was certainly much more brusque than the polished tone we're used to seeing out of academia. But that is the kind of thing it's going to take for the BOV to realize just how distrusted they are. It's very easy to ignore most of the other things. It's not so easy when you've pegged faculty retention as a concern in regards to President Sullivan's performance and suddenly your own actions damage faculty retention in a very public way. It's a good test of their sincerity; if they really mean what they're saying, and I think on some level they do, they can't ignore a thing like this the way they can easily ignore a few cardboard signs at a protest.


  • You make some cogent points; however, you appear to be implying that Universities are simply places to train the next generation's business leaders (global economy, global investment, emerging markets...), and that is simply one service provided by universities. Universities should not adopt business models; they aren't businesses. The Slate editorial below makes great points along those lines so I won't reinvent the wheel here.

  • I think the very least UVa can do is prepare young people for productive lives, serving their fellow men and being rewarded for it, which is the only honest way to earn wealth in the world.

    I expect much, much more....I myself am a man who treasures my liberal arts education. I don't think UVa should be some sort of vocational school. But, if the school cannot fund both German and Mandarin, I think the prudent decision is to go with Mandarin. Likewise, if we must choose between bringing more social workers into the world or more engineers, I'm going to go with engineers. That's a value judgment on my part that some may disagree with....and reasoning minds can certainly differ. But my experience as a recent graduate is that my friends who earned social science degrees are frustrated by their job prospects, while those who studied hard sciences, and even the more readily applicable social sciences like economics, have had success getting work straight off the Lawn.

    The University shouldn't just prepare a person for work, it should prepare them for life. I absolutely believe this and think it's a primary function of a liberal arts education. I'm not for abandoning the liberal arts, or a core curriculum. If anything, I wish our core curriculum were more stringent. I'd love all our engineering and business majors to read the Nicomachean Ethics. The world would be better for it. But 2/3 of one's waking hours are spent at work...and a school that doesn't do its very best to prepare its graduates for work in the present and the future is doing them a grave disservice. Eventually it will become uncompetitive when juxtaposed to schools that prepare their students adequately. Let's not kid ourselves. If no one thought a UVa degree would lead to success in their careers, nobody would give a damn about going there.

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  • The board met until something like 2:30am last night didn't they? I think they're aware of the seriousness of the situation and very much care. What else are they going to do now though? If they firmly believe that Dr. Sullivan is not the person for the job would it make sense to reinstate her? No. I personally have no idea as to that aspect of the matter and I doubt very many people on this board are in a better position to make that judgment than they are. What's right isn't always popular and what's popular isn't alway right as the saying goes. Maybe it was a good decision that was just poorly executed. Maybe it was all around wrong. I have no idea. What I do know is that we are where we are and the media, faculty, students, alumni, and other onlookers sensationalizing something they know little to nothing about isn't going to change that or make my decision for me. The last thing this situation needs is more irrational action and decision making.

    The last thing I'll say on the resignation is that its execution served no beneficial purpose to the community it purported to have been done to support. Trying to incite other faculty to follow him out the door does no justice to the student body that can't just freely move from one school to another of comparable quality and cost because they got pissed off somebody fired their friend and colleague. Not allowing for ample time for things to cool down and a suitable replacement to be lined up serves no purpose other than to deprive his would be students out of valuable knowledge. I think it's important to keep in mind that he resigned from the University and not the BOV, regardless of the intended recipient of his punishment.

    Just because the BOV was recklessly irresponsible in their handling of this situation doesn't absolve others of their own responsibility to act in a reasonable manner. Particularly those as distinguished as Professor Wulf.

    - Matt

  • I agree with your last statement. However, I think I might define "career" and "work" a little more broadly than you appear to. And I think the core of the issue at hand is the narrowing of ideas about productivity and value placed on UVa by a handful of big-monied Wallstreet alumni and their puppets among the BOV.

  • E-mail from Dean Zeithaml to the Comm School alumni e-mail list:

    McIntire Alumni,

    As you probably know, yesterday I was asked by the Board of Visitors to serve as Interim President of the University, effective August 16. I accepted this daunting responsibility because, at this time of turmoil and uncertainty, we need all members of the UVA community to step forward and ensure that the mission of our great University is fulfilled. When it became clear to me that the decision which created this situation would not be reversed, I agreed to join with many colleagues across the University who recognize that we need to reestablish a clear and positive momentum. We cannot, even for a moment, abandon our immediate and exceptional commitment to our students, our patients, learning and knowledge creation, community and professional service, and, very simply, to each other. We may not agree with the recent decision involving President Sullivan or the process, but, rather than walk away, it is up to us, faculty, staff, students, and alumni, to continue to forge UVA as a preeminent global university. Everyone, from Mr. Jefferson to our entering students, should expect no less.

    Some people disagree with my decision to serve in this role, and I understand their reasons. After profound deliberation, however, I felt that I had no choice. I am sorry if you disagree with my decision, but please join me in my efforts to move the University forward. I intend to rely on the same formula for success that we use in the McIntire School: a shared understanding and commitment to an ambitious strategy, an unselfish and dedicated community, and a phenomenal team effort. I will need each of you to help me in this new role, and the School will need you. I hope you will understand my reasons for making this very difficult decision.

    Because I am temporarily leaving the job that I truly love, I have asked Senior Associate Dean Rick Netemeyer to serve as the Interim Dean of the McIntire School until I return. He agreed with his usual thoughtful and humble dedication to the School. Rick is an extraordinary scholar, teacher, and academic leader, and I know he will work closely with the rest of our terrific leadership team to continue our tradition of excellence, innovation, and community. As always, it will be an exciting and challenging year, and please provide Rick and the rest of our School leaders with the extraordinary and generous support that I enjoyed for the past 15 years.

    I look forward to seeing you in my travels and on Grounds, to your essential engagement in the School and University, and to your overall great support. The McIntire School has a strong foundation built on its people, and I know that we will excel through this time. Thank you very much for everything, and I hope to see you soon.


    - Matt

  • If you guys really want to know what this is all about, read the emails between Degras and Kington that was just released via Cavalier Daily's request:

    E-mails show U-Va. board leaders planning Ter

    Rector Helen E. Dragas and Vice Rector Mark Kington share clippings about the coming online revolution in higher education and cite the need for major change at their university
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