11/14/2012 04:49 pm ET

Did Climate Change Controversy Cause UVA's Sacking Of Teresa Sullivan? | The Guardian

"Without an understanding of history, we can't understand the present or predict the future."

Being a historian myself, I couldn't agree more. But the statement jarred with me because the person making it, University of Virginia Board of Visitors (BOV) member Bobbie Kilberg, had implied exactly the opposite just half an hour before, when she urged UVA faculty senate chair George Cohen to stop asking why the board had unseated President Teresa Sullivan in June citing "philosophical differences" about the administration of the university. After uproar on the UVA campus and far beyond, the board was forced to reverse its decision two weeks later, reinstating Sullivan on 26 June.

Cohen, addressing the board at its 13 September meeting (pdf), had listed several reasons for doubting the most frequent justification the board has offered for pursuing Sullivan's removal: her supposed failure to produce a bold strategic plan. And he complained of the board's refusal to explain the lack of proper communication – with Sullivan, with the faculty, and among its own members – in the making and execution of its decision. Until the board provides a more compelling account of the ouster and its rationale, he asserted, the faculty's vote of no confidence from June cannot be reversed. Yet Kilberg insisted: "I just want to move ahead … I think we gain absolutely nothing by rehashing this."

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