Sunday, June 17, 2012


Travails of My Alma Mater

Siva Vaidhyanathan, "Strategic Mumblespeak. Er, UVA's Teresa Sullivan was fired for what?" Slate (June 15, 2012):
In the 19th century, robber barons started their own private universities when they were not satisfied with those already available. But Leland Stanford never assumed his university should be run like his railroad empire. Andrew Carnegie did not design his institute in Pittsburgh to resemble his steel company. The University of Chicago, John D. Rockefeller’s dream come true, assumed neither his stern Baptist values nor his monopolistic strategies. That's because for all their faults, Stanford, Carnegie, and Rockefeller knew what they didn't know.

In the 21st century, robber barons try to usurp control of established public universities to impose their will via comical management jargon and massive application of ego and hubris. At least that's what's been happening at one of the oldest public universities in the United States—Thomas Jefferson's dream come true, the University of Virginia.
Daniel de Vise and Anita Kumar, "U-Va. board leader wanted Teresa Sullivan to make cuts," Washington Post (June 17, 2012):
Leaders of the University of Virginia's governing board ousted President Teresa Sullivan last week largely because of her unwillingness to consider dramatic program cuts in the face of dwindling resources and for her perceived reluctance to approach the school with the bottom-line mentality of a corporate chief executive....The campaign to remove Sullivan began around October, the sources said. The Dragas group coalesced around a consensus that Sullivan was moving too slowly. Besides broad philosophical differences, they had at least one specific quibble: They felt Sullivan lacked the mettle to trim or shut down programs that couldn't sustain themselves financially, such as obscure academic departments in classics and German.
Karin Kapsidelis, "U.Va. leaders protest Sullivan firing," Richmond Times-Dispatch (June 14, 2012):
Sullivan, who is to step down Aug. 15 after two years on the job, met with department chairs at the end of April and told them of board pressure to reallocate resources.
"She made it clear that the board wanted her to lop off, for lack of better word, parts of the institution that were underperforming," said David Leblang, chair of the department of politics.
"Her point of view was that you don't get rid of a department like classics, for example, just because it doesn't produce enough graduates. There are parts of a university that need to be part of a university regardless of how many graduates they have," said Leblang...
Code of Virginia § 23-63:
The following branches of learning shall be taught at the University: the Latin, Greek, Hebrew, French, Spanish, Italian, German, and Anglo-Saxon languages; the different branches of mathematics, pure and physical; natural philosophy, chemistry, mineralogy, including geology; the principles of agriculture; botany, anatomy, surgery, and medicine; zoology, history, ideology, general grammar, ethics, rhetoric, and belles lettres; civil government, political economy, the law of nature and of nations and municipal law.

(Code 1919, § 817.)
Hat tip: rogueclassicism.

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