And While I’m on the Subject…

A slight hole in the narrative…

In its coverage of the University of Virginia Board of Visitors action yesterday (see previous post), the Washington Post reminded readers that administrators have blamed their aggressive tuition increases on “two decades of declining state funding” that have “starved the school of much-needed revenue.”

No question, the state has trimmed financial support for its top schools. What nobody mentions is that the General Assembly also freed UVa, William & Mary and Virginia Tech several years ago from much of their state oversight. By eliminating bureaucratic red tape and shortening decision-making cycles, the thinking went, the three universities would be able to increase productivity and garner cost savings sufficient to offset the reductions in state support.

No one forced the universities to take that deal. They would not have done so had their leadership not believed that it would advance their institutional interests.

Here’s where it gets really interesting. One of the ways that UVa President Teresa Sullivan proposed to finance her expensive vision for advancing academic excellence was by pocketing savings from the university’s productivity initiatives! The press coverage does not mention whether that proposal survived the give-and-take leading up to yesterday’s vote. Regardless, in its whining about shortfalls in state funding, the university administration overlooked the fact that UVa agreed to some state funding cuts in exchange for greater freedom from state oversight that would yield … productivity gains and lower costs.

Either memories are very short or UVa administrators are hoping Virginia’s press, public and politicians are too stupid to remember the whole story.


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7 responses to “And While I’m on the Subject…”

  1. reed fawell III Avatar
    reed fawell III

    You’re right about this. Where is administrative bloat being shed? Nowhere that I can find.

    Instead, student tuition hikes are mainlined into the pockets of those who either run the school, or do their research there, often for the purpose of getting paid from federal contract work. This is a business not a school. Meanwhile, any savings found are skimmed off the top and collected into a pot to mainline those funds too back into administration and research.

    The result is that the only people who are taking the financial hits are the students, their families, and the taxpayers, and those who teach students.

    In short, UVA is being turned into a business being built to serve those who work there, rather than those who pay tuition to study and learn there.

    Thus the charges of self serving business interests leveled against Rector Dragas were ill-founded. Now, they should now be filed against her self righteous opponents within the administration and certain faculty.

    1. reed fawell III Avatar
      reed fawell III

      For more background and details on this subject see article and comments, including last comments, found at:

  2. At last, it looks like those who have been pleading to know what “differences” the BOV had with Pres Sullivan are getting their answer.

    1. reed fawell III Avatar
      reed fawell III

      You’re right. But one can only form an opinion based on actions.

      Plus this current policy appears to have the backing of a substantial majority of the board. That’s disappointing to this observer, if it is true. If it’s not true, which I gather is doubtful, the Board needs to correct the record.

  3. Of course, actions are what matter. I will point out that this BOV is not identical to the one that sought the Pres’s resignation last year. Dr. Miller was appointed later, but he’s the only guy in the room who has actually managed academic excellence in higher education with fiscal responsibility. I’d be lining up with him and the Rector.

  4. The Post’s Freddie Hiatt and Lee Hockstader, neither of whom live in Virginia, have one solution to every problem — more government spending and, then, higher taxes. The average third grader can compose something more substantial than these two bozos.

    “In short, UVA is being turned into a business being built to serve those who work there, rather than those who pay tuition to study and learn there.” Agreed, and UVA is not alone.

  5. hmmm… which members of the BOV voted to fire Sullivan last year but then supported her budget this year?

    sounds like many more than was claimed by Dragas in the vote to fire…

    or … did they vote to fire Sullivan then turn around and vote for her (budget?).

    anyone know?

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