Rally for Honor at the Rotunda

June 24th, 2012 · No Comments · By

I’m sure you’ve all been following the ongoing situation at the University; if not, here’s a quick summary:

Over the course of a few weeks, the Rector of the Board of Visitors (Helen Dragas, a real estate developer and non-academic who apparently has both a ridiculous sense of entitlement and a shaky grasp of how academia works) met in secret with other Board members planning to get rid the President of the University (Teresa Sullivan), then illegally called a secret “emergency session” of only 3 members during which they voted to fire her, after she’d served for just under two years.

The Charlottesville community was shocked, emails detailing the scheming of the 3 BOV members were accidentally leaked, pretty much everyone who’s not Helen Dragas became outraged, one of the responsible parties resigned, and it became a national scandal. The BOV had a full meeting last Monday in the Rotunda that lasted about 12 hours (although still a private one, with none of the press or the public allowed) during which they could not get enough votes to reinstate President Sullivan, but they did appoint an interim President — who’s since stepped down, calling for Sullivan’s reinstatement. The Cavalier Daily FOIA’d all of Dragas’ emails (which is so awesome, and has earned me a newfound level of respect for the CavDaily), which revealed further shadiness, treachery, lust for power, and total lack of clear thinking on the part of those involved. The Deans of the school, the entire faculty, former President Casteen, and large sections of the student body and the public have all unanimously called for Sullivan’s reinstatement and for Dragas to resign.

Here’s where we stand now: due to popular demand, the BOV is meeting again on Tuesday to review the situation, which many have speculated that they wouldn’t bother to do unless they had the votes to reinstate Sullivan. So things are looking up — however, Helen Dragas has dug her heels in like a jackass and refused to admit error, apologize, resign, or even concede that her critics have a valid point — instead, she’s hired a PR firm to draft inane letters for her and write the only 2 op-eds in the world that have sided with her.  Governer Bob McDonnell (who appoints the BOV — mostly from a pool of whichever of his campaign donors is interested in then job, as it turns out) has insisted that the decision of Tuesday’s meeting will be final, saying “three meetings is enough” (seemingly ignoring the fact that the first meeting did not actually happen — the board members met individually, not as a group, and the second one was illegal — they called an “emergency session” when clearly there was no emergency, and their actions were totally premeditated). The BOV’s tenure (including Dragas’) is up in just one week, but she’s still the Rector, and McDonnell has floated the idea that he might reappoint her. So, there’s no clear victory yet.

If you’d like more details, or a clear summary of the situation (rather than the millions of little tidbits flying around all of social media at the moment), Waldo at cvillenews.com has a great summary of the events as well as some incredibly thorough (and often side-splittingly funny) analysis of what’s been going on, which I recommend. (There’s some uncharacteristically clear-headed insight from a lot of his commenters, as well.)

There’s a “Rally for Honor” happening at the Rotunda at 2pm today, which a great many people plan to attend; even if you’re not directly affiliated with the University (like me), it’s still a pretty important issue, especially if you believe that the super-rich shouldn’t be allowed to dictate what happens in academia according to their idle whims, and that things like education, credibility, transparency among those in power, and the use of public funds are more important things than making as much money as possible. So if you can, please be there — and if you can’t, John Ruscher (Nailgun founder, and UVA grad, class of ’07 I believe) will be running a live-updated Storify-thing of all the tweets etc going around from the event. (I actually didn’t even know what a “storify” was until last week, but check this out):

Tags: charlottesville · endorsements · news