By Peter Galuszka

Talk about your existential crisis.

The University of Virginia is under fire from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission to show cause why it should not face sanctions or even lose its accreditation because of the inane attempted firing of President Teresa Sullivan this summer.

According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the commission is unhappy with the explanation they have received about what happened when the Board of Visitors, led by Helen Dragas, abruptly forced Sullivan to resign.

Dragas, a construction firm owner, was still kept on the board after the Sullivan affair drew national criticism and Sullivan was retained after the university’s loud protests.

Readers of this blog may remember the great gnashing of teeth that went supporting the attempt to get rid of highly-regarded Sullivan. Some, and others, claim she was out of step with great plans to turn some teaching over to online courses to cut costs. That turned out to be untrue.

The movement seems based in some decades-old backlash against the supposed dogmatic liberalism that began among tenured faculty back in the 1960s and 1970s.

Well, it has all turned full circle. Thankfully, Sullivan is back in office but Virginia’s best-known university and one of the most prestigious public schools in the nation is facing questions about whether it is worthy to be accredited.

It’s almost too incredible to believe.

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  1. re: ” … some decades-old backlash against the supposed dogmatic liberalism that began among tenured faculty”

    jeeze -the TRUTH is FINALLY ….. EXPOSED!

    It’s a good thing Peter blogs here in BR cuz we’d NEVER get that kind of revelation/admission from Bacon, eh?

    Dragas is the ghost of Jesse Helms in Drag?


  2. yeah…that was kinda off the wall… maybe my bad… ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. reed fawell Avatar
    reed fawell

    This is petty political. And it illustrates the sad (and comical if it were not so sad) state 0f much of today’s Higher Education in this country.

  4. DJRippert Avatar

    OK – add accreditation to the long list of crap I don’t consider worthwhile.

    This Southern Association of Bozos and Buffoons wants to strip the entire University’s accreditation over a flare up between the President and the board?

    Man, it’s a good thing these ying yangs spend their lives in academia. Could you imagine if some organization stopped trading in the stock of a public company every time there was a dispute between a CEO and the board.

    1. reed fawell Avatar
      reed fawell

      Yup, these accreditation educators are acting like spoiled children in their own petty fantasy world. They should be dis-accredited for ridiculous childlike behavior, and otherwise ignored. Let them accredite UVA.

  5. what real effect would have such a thing have on ordinary Virginians”

    isn’t this just more inside baseball?

    I personally think the BOV idea for Universities is vulnerable because the appointment process can and does appoint people who just are not equipped to do that job.

    We had a real mess with the President selection process down at UMW in Fredericksburg. The BOV picked a guy with a serious alcohol/substance abuse issue as well as some other problems due to a failure to perform due diligence.

    When you got someone like Dragas able to do as much damage as she did while the rest of the BOV seems to be unable or unwilling to rein her in and keep things under control – it’s an indication that the BOV process itself is flawed.

    HOWEVER, I CERTAINLY would be REMISS if I did not INCLUDE other types boards in Va such as the CTB and MWAA which – again – seem to suffer from the ability of individuals acting on their own to influence and guide decision-making while others on the board seem to function mostly as paperweights and decoration.

    any board that is structured in such a way that it can essentially be taken over by one person and pushed into actions that take months to unravel .. seems counter to their purpose – to me.

    At the end of the day – you have to ask if Dragas and the BOV accomplished anything meaningful or just damaged the institution.

  6. Here were the truest words in Peter’s post: “It’s almost too incredible to believe.”

    Yes, it is too incredible to believe that UVa would lost its accreditation as a result of the Sullivan controversy. That controversy raised legitimate issues regarding the Board of Trustees’ behavior but those concerns don’t come remotely close to the level that would justify removing the university’s accreditation.

    Sounds like an exercise in higher-ed politics to me.

  7. reed fawell Avatar
    reed fawell

    Ignore them. Let them act to dis -accredit the University. Then sue each of them Individually and Personally, as well as Corporately, for an Ultra Vires Act done with malicious intent.

  8. The purpose of the accrediting organizations has shifted from promoting quality higher education to enforcing Political Correctness. And in the view of the Faculty Lounges to whom the accreditors answer, there is nothing more Incorrect than having Trustees (in Virginia’s case, Visitors) actually do their jobs.

    1. reed fawell Avatar
      reed fawell

      Yes, I agree, but suggest their intent is far more than PC. It is also a quest for Political Power, and their Ultra Vires actions in that unlawful quest threaten substantial harm to the the reputation and financial health of the University.

      Hence those individuals responsible for these actions plainly outside their corporate powers should be sued personally and individually for monetary damages in an amount equal to the monetary harm they cause the University. And for substantial punitive damages as well, given the abusive and malicious nature of their actions.

  9. Reed, anyone can “rate” an entity. It’s an opinion. you can’t sue over a opinion guy. you have to prove that they had malicious intent and that specific economic damage resulted. Do you know how hard that is?

  10. reed fawell Avatar
    reed fawell

    I am quite aware of the high threshold for slander and libel in this country.

    Here, however, we see a fact pattern potentially giving rise to a myriad of other causes of action where the threshold of a colorable claim are far different. And where the obligations of defendants are materially different and substantial higher insofar as an actionable claim. Interference of contract, for example.

    All this is complicated, of course, and far beyond the scope of a blog or my knowledge of the facts or relevant law. What I am suggesting though is that people acting in the name of accreditation here are potentially playing with fire. They may well be entering blindly into a forum where the rules and consequences that apply to garden variety teapot tempests of academic disputes (or accreditation) do not necessarily apply. Thus they’re well advised to proceed with due caution. And that the University so inform them and act as need be to protect its interests, not least its reputation and its contractual relationships that are critical to its mission. And not allow the University to be “Played With.”

  11. Reed – think about what would happen if any/all accreditation organizations could get sued over a downgrade…

    you’d just not have any accreditation any more.

  12. reed fawell Avatar
    reed fawell

    The subject, Larry, is not accreditation. Therein lies one reason for a cause of action against these people by reason of their acting outside their authority.

  13. okey doke.

  14. reed fawell Avatar
    reed fawell

    A review of the various “State Board of Directors” of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission is quite telling. Talk about the potential for Conflicts of Interest, and a massive Political Agenda!

    And I wonder where the President of the University stands in all this. Surely she has come to the University’s defense. Talk about Professional Ethics. This has the makings a Great Scandal, not to mention High Academic Political Theater – its elementary School Teachers Union come to Higher Education. Where are the investigative reporters?

    1. reed fawell Avatar
      reed fawell

      Talk about Unlawful Interference of Contracts! Talk about Abuse of Fiduciary Obligations!

  15. reed fawell Avatar
    reed fawell

    Should one wish to see how our Administrators of Higher Education spend their time and our money, and educate our children, I suggest you attempt to read:

    “The Principals of Accreditation: Foundations of Quality Enhancement” handed down by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, as issued by its Commission on Colleges, as Approved by the College Delegate Assembly: December 2001, as Revised by the College Delegate Assembly: December 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011 (as effected Jan. 1, 2012), Fifth Edition, First Printing. As found at

    This Document’s title gives a preview of what the reader will confront when trying to read this document.

    Consider this: the people who labored over this stuff then wrote it down are teaching the future scholars and leaders of this country. Indeed they’re tasked with leading our Institutions of Higher Education into the 21th Century. God Help America. And its children.

  16. reed fawell Avatar
    reed fawell

    This threat to sanction and/or dis-accredit the University by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools also raises a host of other issues, such as, for example, whether University employees are actively working, either openly or covertly with, the “University’s Accrediting Agency” on this matter?

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