Teresa Sullivan, suddenly ex-president of the University of Virginia, speaks to the trustees. Excerpts:
Sweeping action may be gratifying and may create the aura of strong leadership, but its unintended consequences may lead to costs that are too high to bear.
… Corporate-style, top-down leadership does not work in a great university. Sustained change with buy-in does work.
… [D]eans and provosts at every peer institution are setting aside funds now to raid the University of Virginia next year given the current turmoil on our campus.
… A dramatic top-down reallocation in our general fund, simply to show that we are “changing,” or that we are not “incremental,” seems to me fiscally imprudent, highly alarming to faculty, and unfair to students who expect to get a broadly inclusive education here. I have chosen a lower-risk and more conservative strategy, because I am accountable to the taxpayers and the tuition payers.
If we were to embark on a course of deep top-down cuts, there would also be difficult questions regarding what to cut. A university that does not teach the full range of arts and sciences will no longer be a university. Certainly it will no longer be respected as such by its former peers.
… Fundraising takes time. A new President first has to meet donors and establish trust and rapport. Instability is as alarming to donors as it is to faculty and in the last few days you are already seeing the impact.