The University of Virginia’s recent unpleasantness (“Climbing from the top,” The Daily Progress, June 9) actually strengthens and deepens the commitment of the university’s stakeholders from around the globe, and makes our institution even stronger.
One sign of strength: The university completed a $3-billion fundraising campaign. How did UVa do this, after last year’s turmoil? We won. The students, faculty, staff and alumni overwhelmingly pitted themselves against the Board of Visitors, and the board relented.
Let me explain. I recently worked at UVa Reunions. Sullivan received a standing ovation from the classes attending — even though not a single person attending graduated during her term as president. During a Q&A session with alumni, one person took to the microphone to thank President Sullivan for her grace and poise in handling the events of last year. Sullivan demurred, but she received another standing ovation nonetheless. Every alumnus who gives to the University of Virginia is also giving to the faculty, staff and administration. More than ever, donors can be sure that the University of Virginia is a community that will not “tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it.”
UVa is marked by a deep sense of belongingness for those who study here. An alumna recently told me of her constant urge to resist honking her car horn at passing vehicles with University of Virginia decals in Illinois.
President Sullivan understands this sense of place. She solicits input from every person in the university community. She understands the issues facing higher education on a deep, nuanced level. She jumped into UVa’s idiosyncratic culture — our weird lingo and unmatched school spirit, even our insatiable appetite for “The Good Old Song” — without a second thought. She is broadly engaged with students in a way most university presidents never could imagine, committed to changing the university in a way that remains true to our founding principles. We could not ask for a better president, and I look forward to George Martin assuming the role of rector.
We support the university. We support President Sullivan. We support her because she embodies the ideals of our university.
Brendan Maupin Wynn