Only an explanation or resignation from Rector Dragas can ensure stability at the University of Virginia.
All money comes with strings attached; the strings of money itself. You can feel the value of a dollar; not truth, or justice, whose values are known and seldom felt, perhaps not even by Jefferson. Omnipresent money, we live in it; not truth, which is absent and hides when we're coming.
Paul Tudor Jones II -- a billionaire who The Hook reports was privy and involved in the departure of President Teresa A. Sullivan -- wrote a letter Sunday to The Daily Progress, calling for change while exhibiting traits the University of Virginia has tried to advance from, including an inferiority complex vis-à-vis Ivies. He cited rankings and salaries, and justified the resignation from an enterprising perspective. "The spirit of Thomas Jefferson... is cheering this bold action by the Board of Visitors," he wrote. "... To paraphrase him, it is time for a revolution."
What, to paraphrase Jones, has revolted observers is the murky nature of Sullivan's ouster, which was known to few save a privileged cartel and bought in a business-like manner. Jones and other apologists have defended the removal of Sullivan as a response to academic changes. The breakneck speed of this turnover is, for them, an exemplar of how fast the University of Virginia ought to handle things to remain or become competitive. Of course we sloganize Jefferson -- he's our brand, stamped to our bumpers and sweatshirts.
And many have accepted their rhetoric, interpreting the loss of Sullivan in terms of how it might alter our university's value. We can knock Jones for bemoaning our ranking, but dystopian faculty statements have also decried coming falls to our stature.
But an economic analysis has nothing to do with it. To abstract away from Sullivan's time here, or to view this crisis as a microcosm of issues converging in higher education is to give a legitimacy to this process which the Board doesn't deserve. The community was misled and is now angry. Wearing black, protestors will stand outside the Board meeting in the Rotunda today, drawing the media and sun as those pass, sweating it out and making the Board do the same.
We don't need this. School starts in August. The interim president will have no confidence from the community -- let alone the Board, whose lasting support we all know of.
We are not at the point of no return. That point is July 1, when the term of University Rector Helen Dragas comes to an end. Then, Gov. Bob McDonnell, who has so far abstained, will have to make the politically charged decision of whether to reappoint her. If he does, it is trouble, and if not Dragas will enjoy the pleasures of quiet.
Rector Dragas, I ask that you resign from your position or explain what all happened. Peter Kiernan, who was only marginally involved, took a step down from the Chair and Board of Darden Trustees -- and this was an honorable move. Rector, if you care about the value of the University of Virginia, resign from your position, or, in business terms, give us an accounting.
Aaron Eisen is the Executive Editor of The Cavalier Daily. The views expressed here are his own. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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