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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

No time for complacency at UVa

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Posted: Tuesday, July 17, 2012 10:23 am | Updated: 3:20 pm, Tue Jan 22, 2013.

Despite the fact that I was geographically distant from the University of Virginia Board of Visitors chaos, I was following it closely thanks to news coverage, social media and email correspondence.

I’m glad the dispute has been settled, and hopefully UVa can recover from how awful this looked in the media. However, after reading the letter to the editor of July 6 (“Time to come together at UVa,” The Daily Progress), I was struck by the author’s request for the university to accept what’s occurred and move on. I think that is exactly the wrong way to approach this.

What transpired has shown just how broken the system for the Board of Visitors is. We got President Teresa Sullivan back, but at the cost of several excellent professors, one board member, the head of Darden School Foundation board and two weeks of horrible media coverage. And there has been nothing done to ensure this won’t happen again.

The letter writer’s complacency is exactly what I fear the rest of the university will embody, and that this whole event will be forgotten and later repeated, only with a different board and a more agreeable faculty and student body.

With state elections approaching and the governor not seek able to seek re-election, UVa should be mobilizing to send a message to lawmakers to end the spoils system of the BoV and to let the university be run by people who know what they’re doing and what the university is like.

I still find it absurd that Virginia contributes less than 10 percent of the university’s operating budget, yet through appointments to the Board of Visitors controls 100 percent of its spending.

Also, the current BoV needs to know that our desire for openness, honesty and respect is not limited to when some members secretly fire our president, but must be maintained at all times.

Some fear that the board’s actions may have permanently damaged UVa’s standing. That damage cannot be healed with complacency, but with change. We need to prove that injustice of this nature will never be allowed to happen again.