President Terry Sullivan is the lead person in facing the problems at the University of Virginia, which include sexual misconduct and assault on innocent persons. Sadly, some of these behaviors have lurked around the Grounds of the University for 60 or more years.
President Sullivan is not, however, the only leader who must step up and see that justice is done and that new solutions and attitudes are achieved, both on the Grounds and around the university community.
Dr. Sullivan’s suspension of fraternity and sorority social events is, at this point, a step toward dealing with the problem. It is not some sort of mass punishment. Those who are experienced in college administration — and, hopefully, many level-headed students, alumni and parents as well — will recognize President Sullivan’s actions as unprecedented steps toward collecting as many facts and viewpoints as possible, and then moving toward solutions that will also be previously untried but in a new era both effective and productive for all.
We who love the University expect the Board of Visitors to demonstrate high levels of good judgment and selfless leadership in taking their part of the responsibility for student behavior and safety at UVa. That will be demonstrated if the BOV stands firmly behind the president and her administration, making the appropriate inquiries of the president in official meetings, being assured of appropriate steps as proposed by the president’s operating team, and supporting the president’s proposals to move the University of Virginia forward in the areas of student behavior and safety — especially where violations may have occurred in the past.
I for one will be grateful if all parties — board, administration, faculty, students and alumni — are able to show remarkable restraint in what they/we say in the midst of this time of crisis. Specifically, one or two members of the Board of Visitors in the past, dating back to the repugnant attempt to oust President Terry Sullivan, have shown bad judgment in assuming and promoting self-serving public positions. This activity is contrary to the best practices of university governance nationally and to successful precedents at the University of Virginia specifically.
If those individuals continue to function unilaterally and to stir up questions about the University’s president and her colleagues, then the University is diminished and subject to ridicule in the broader public view. (Note: To be avoided are organizations that are notorious for their right-wing agenda and efforts to destroy many of the traditions, practices and opportunities in America’s leading universities.)
When I was working on a book, “On Scholarship,” especially a chapter titled, “Leading to Diversity at the University of Virginia,” back in 2001-08, I was most favorably impressed by how much information was available on the Web and Internet about the University of Virginia. (And it still is.) As I see it, virtually no aspect of UVa is left out of public access, including Board of Visitors’ meetings, which are live-streamed and watchable online in real time.
At a UVa web site, one can watch President Terry Sullivan give her Address to Students, on Dec. 1, 2014, and also read her words of care and concern about students and the UVa community. This web site also provides links to other useful info, including the Rector of the Board’s statement on these troublesome revelations, and a formal board commitment not to tolerate such behavior in the future. The Board (BOV) meeting was live-streamed for Web reception, and perhaps one may retrieve it for delayed viewing.
The steps UVa’s administration is taking appear to be solid, workmanlike responses to problems that have lurked around the Grounds of the University — and clearly at other universities — for generations. Such situations demand unusual treatment; with full commitment and thorough application, let’s hope that a more productive lifestyle will soon be achieved.
Similar to mass murders on other campuses, this is a wake-up call at the University of Virginia which must be answered.
Gerald L. Cooper (BA, MEd, UVa) spent his 43-year career in education as an administrator, counselor and teacher.There are currently no comments highlighted.