UVa Fires President, Has Impact for Colleges Nationwide

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gorcee
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UVa Fires President, Has Impact for Colleges Nationwide

Postby gorcee » Sun Jun 17, 2012 3:52 am UTC

The University of Virginia effectively fired it's recently-hired president, Teresa Sullivan, last weekend. Here is the latest article: http://www2.dailyprogress.com/news/2012 ... r-1993067/

Why does this matter?

UVa is a very good public school -- it is typically considered one of the three or four best public schools in the country. It also runs a stellar hospital and medical school. The firing is especially shocking because it was a decision made by the Board of Visitors: typically alums who are highly successful business people. In fact, BoV membership is one of the most coveted appointments in the whole state.

The story gets deeper.

The BoV called an emergency session last weekend at the behest of Rector Helen Dragas. Apparently, only four of sixteen members could attend; critically, the meeting was called when two key members were definitely unable to attend. The action had apparently been in the works for weeks, but three members later claimed to know nothing of the action. A vote of 15-0-1 was recorded for asking for her resignation.

Sullivan was only the 8th president in the history of the University that Thomas Jefferson himself founded. She started in August 2010. The actions leading up to her removal were started by graduates of UVa's Darden Business School. Indeed, the whole thing sounds a whole lot like a Darden coup.

Nevertheless, how does this impact other schools nationwide?

Unsubstantiated but entirely plausible rumors have it that a Darden alum, who now works for Goldman Sachs, approached UVa to attempt to use UVa branding for some for-profit online universities that Goldman Sachs runs. UVa, in turn, would receive a very substantial kickback. The story goes that Sullivan refused this lucrative offer, despite UVa not reaching its fundraising goal set in 2004.

This all is a bit more shocking when you take it all together:

An exceptionally small group of wealthy businessmen, who were not elected to their position, unilaterally removed the president of an extremely reputable public university, with no need for approval from the state government, because the president refused to license the public, non-profit university's brand to a for-profit organization run by one of the largest banks in the world.

Again: a successful, well-liked president of one of the most highly regarded universities in the United States just got shit-canned because she allegedly stood up to Goldman Sachs. Holy. Fuck.

If this is happening at a public school like UVa, what's to prevent this from happening at a private school? Or a public school with more financial woes that UVa?

For better or for worse, universities have used their non-profit status as a shield against the invisible hand of the market. This action has fired a warning shot, or maybe this will be the shot heard round the world. College education is changing, as it must, but this is a bold action that doesn't leave a lot of room for debate.

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Re: UVa Fires President, Has Impact for Colleges Nationwide

Postby lutzj » Sun Jun 17, 2012 4:24 am UTC

The main problem in this case, it seems, is the existence of crappy university by-laws.
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Re: UVa Fires President, Has Impact for Colleges Nationwide

Postby KnightExemplar » Sun Jun 17, 2012 12:38 pm UTC

The BoV called an emergency session last weekend at the behest of Rector Helen Dragas. Apparently, only four of sixteen members could attend; critically, the meeting was called when two key members were definitely unable to attend. The action had apparently been in the works for weeks, but three members later claimed to know nothing of the action. A vote of 15-0-1 was recorded for asking for her resignation.

...

Again: a successful, well-liked president of one of the most highly regarded universities in the United States just got shit-canned because she allegedly stood up to Goldman Sachs. Holy. Fuck.


You're raising the alarm here. This is the shit you need to provide references to.
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gorcee
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Re: UVa Fires President, Has Impact for Colleges Nationwide

Postby gorcee » Sun Jun 17, 2012 12:50 pm UTC

KnightExemplar wrote:
The BoV called an emergency session last weekend at the behest of Rector Helen Dragas. Apparently, only four of sixteen members could attend; critically, the meeting was called when two key members were definitely unable to attend. The action had apparently been in the works for weeks, but three members later claimed to know nothing of the action. A vote of 15-0-1 was recorded for asking for her resignation.

...

Again: a successful, well-liked president of one of the most highly regarded universities in the United States just got shit-canned because she allegedly stood up to Goldman Sachs. Holy. Fuck.


You're raising the alarm here. This is the shit you need to provide references to.


http://www.readthehook.com/104250/impor ... presidency

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/dc- ... story.html

http://www.readthehook.com/104256/spine ... est-charge

The Darden board member that tried to do damage control got run out:

Just four days after University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan was ousted in what many are calling a coup by a small faction of the University's Board of Visitors and a cadre of Wall Street-oriented alumni, the state's flagship school has been thrown into chaos, and a key figure in what's become a national headline-grabbing fiasco has resigned his position as chair of the Darden School Foundation Board.

...

The same email thrice used the term "strategic dynamism" in discussing a quality sought in a future leader, even as Kiernan praises Sullivan as "a decent and thoroughly pleasurable partner" both to Darden and its Foundation. The desire of those who pressed the presidential ouster, he asserted, "stems from their concern that the governance of the University was not sufficiently tuned to the dramatic changes we all face: funding, internet, technology advances, the new economic model."


http://www.readthehook.com/104241/hell- ... van-ouster

And

http://www.readthehook.com/104213/cabal ... carrs-hill

Kiernan, who lives in Greenwich, Connecticut and who recently penned a book titled Becoming China's Bitch: And Nine More Catastrophes We Must Avoid Right Now runs a venture capital firm. But it's his former role as a partner at Goldman Sachs and as a prospective member of the UVA Board that has raised some eyebrows.

Vaidhyanathan leaps at the "philosophical difference" mentioned by Sullivan in her brief statement following the announcement.

"The philosophical difference is the difference between how an MBA thinks and how a Ph.D. thinks," says Vaidhyanathan. "It looks like a cabal of MBAs have decided that we need creative destruction or some sort of high energy, bold visionary re-engineering of the University."

Another concern is that Goldman Sachs, which recently took a major ownership position in a group of online universities, might find a role at UVA. After all, Dragas noted in her remarks that online classes have recently been "legitimized" by some "elite institutions."


Emphasis mine.

Many of the citations come from the local paper, simply because I don't feel like registering to get through the wall at Washington Post, but you can find backup sources in other papers if you'd like.


lutzj wrote:The main problem in this case, it seems, is the existence of crappy university by-laws.


In almost all universities, the president is selected and can be removed by action from a board of trustees, or similar.

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Re: UVa Fires President, Has Impact for Colleges Nationwide

Postby Princess Marzipan » Sun Jun 17, 2012 2:08 pm UTC

If this really an action taken by those with wealth and power to exert their influence as hard as possible, changing University by-laws isn't likely to have much of an effect. Whatever the rules are, the powerful can position themselves however necessary to follow them by the letter while obliterating the spirit.
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Re: UVa Fires President, Has Impact for Colleges Nationwide

Postby gorcee » Sun Jun 17, 2012 2:30 pm UTC

Princess Marzipan wrote:If this really an action taken by those with wealth and power to exert their influence as hard as possible, changing University by-laws isn't likely to have much of an effect. Whatever the rules are, the powerful can position themselves however necessary to follow them by the letter while obliterating the spirit.


This is also true.

(Edit: nice wording :D http://www2.dailyprogress.com/news/2012 ... r-1993061/)

It is not new for people with money to have influence over a university. However, with a few exceptions, it is usually through positive action; i.e., "I'll give you $x million dollars if you build this center in my name and bring in these faculty to do this research." Very rarely is it through negative action, or in other words, through the direct removal of faculty, administrators, or programs.

Even less rarely is negative action taken so brazenly and publicly. And I can't think of a single precedent in higher ed where, effectively, one school within a university was able to essentially dictate the course and future of the rest of the university. This is like the Law School at Yale taking over Yale itself. Sure, the different schools always had influence, but this goes beyond influence.

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Re: UVa Fires President, Has Impact for Colleges Nationwide

Postby Princess Marzipan » Sun Jun 17, 2012 3:15 pm UTC

The office of the state attorney general declined to comment for this story, citing attorney-client privilege with its client, the board.
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Re: UVa Fires President, Has Impact for Colleges Nationwide

Postby gorcee » Sun Jun 17, 2012 5:10 pm UTC

Princess Marzipan wrote:
The office of the state attorney general declined to comment for this story, citing attorney-client privilege with its client, the board.
I do love the smell of corruption in the morning.


Mind you, the state Attorney General is Ken Cuccinelli, the same Ken Cuccinelli that tried to a.) inform the state universities that homosexuality was not protected under the equal opportunity policies, and b.) tried to sue a UVa faculty member for publishing research into climate change.

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Re: UVa Fires President, Has Impact for Colleges Nationwide

Postby Dauric » Sun Jun 17, 2012 6:05 pm UTC

Some Frontline, because I reference them a lot:

College Inc. 55:32

A look in to for-profit colleges and how their business works.

Educating Sargent Pantzke 17:59

More in depth investigation in to recruitment and the promises made to potential students. Focuses primarily on GI Bill applicants, but many of the topics apply to any student applying to a for-profit college.

--

On one hand they're attempting to broaden the number of students that UVa can service, which is a good thing because state and community colleges can't come near filling the demand for post-high-school education in the public or in the workplace. On the other hand they're unwilling to discuss what they're doing publicly which is at the very least highly suggestive that the board thinks what they're doing isn't entirely kosher.

It sounds like Goldman's online university needs accreditation, and the easiest way to do that for most for-profits is to buy out a college that may not be doing financially well, but has state or federal accreditation. It sounds like Goldman executives convinced the Board of Visitors that this kind of piggybacking arrangement could work to expand UVa's student body, which is a goal of most colleges again because of the enormous demand for college educations most universities really do want to offer their material to the largest number of students possible.*

The problem is that this kind of system could ruin the accreditation system. The online college isn't an outgrowth of UVa, it's an existing college with their own internal administration, policies and culture, so it's unknown how much administrative control UVa will have over the online college that will bear their name. It's possible that graduates from UVa and the online college could be drastically different in terms of the education they receive and what their diplomas mean.



*Stanford has actually put a number of their course materials online for free, the program lead to the creation of the Coursera company. NPR Article.
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Re: UVa Fires President, Has Impact for Colleges Nationwide

Postby clever_username » Sun Jun 24, 2012 4:26 am UTC

I just want to point out that, as a student at UVA, I haven't heard Goldman Sachs come up even once in all of the outrage around grounds. There have been loads of emails and whatnot about the situation - you can read them all on the school's homepage. Certainly lots of stuff to be upset about, notably the lack of transparency in the actions of the Board of Visitors, but the Goldman Sachs connection seems like sort of a fringe issue that's given too much air time here. Even in your quotes I only see it mentioned once, in passing, without real evidence. Most of the disagreement was probably financial - note the selection of the dean of the esteemed Commerce School (undergrad only and completely distinct from Darden, by the way) as the interim president. I don't find it too unlikely that what you're saying had some role in the decisions, but anybody reading this should really learn a bit more about the situation before coming to sweeping conclusions, because there are a whole lot of more substantial issues.

Also note that I probably won't be back to reply, as I don't often browse the New and Articles section and post even less frequently. I just wanted to give the conversation a bit more depth, as so far it's centered exclusively around something which doesn't tell even part of the story. Also, keep watching the news, because there is to be a conclusive vote about the future of the presidency on Tuesday, and the Governor of Virginia has stated that if it's not resolved then the entire board will be pressured to resign.

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Re: UVa Fires President, Has Impact for Colleges Nationwide

Postby buddy431 » Tue Jun 26, 2012 8:44 pm UTC

And now she's been reinstated
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Re: UVa Fires President, Has Impact for Colleges Nationwide

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Tue Jun 26, 2012 10:15 pm UTC

With some help from the governor, who said that he would ask for the Board's collective resignation if they didn't take "final action" today.
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Re: UVa Fires President, Has Impact for Colleges Nationwide

Postby meatyochre » Wed Jun 27, 2012 9:31 pm UTC

I know for a fact my Fortune 500 company's current CEO is slicing and dicing us up (we're an insurance company) because of ONE shareholder's demands. ONE guy is causing thousands of people to lose their jobs. It's freaking ridiculous. But hey, baby, it's just business. :roll:

This is how corporate America works. I don't like it, but I wasn't born with a silver spoon in my mouth so I have to put up with it. Principles never seem to pay my bills. :cry:
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