As a University of Virginia alum, I’ve been following the recent drama surrounding the ouster of President Teresa Sullivan very closely. Yesterday, Sullivan was reinstated by the Board of Visitors, to the great relief of just about everyone in the university community. It’s been heartening to watch the rallies and see good old-fashioned activism (aided by new-fashioned social media) clearly rewarded.
While this particular battle may have been won, the corporatization of higher education remains a problem. More than anything, this situation has revealed the dangers of the awesome hubris that can develop among certain wealthy individuals in positions of power. The handful of people behind Sullivan’s ouster included a couple billionaire hedge fund managers and a condo developer from Virginia Beach with a soft spot for the musings of David Brooks. Such experience does not qualify one to make sweeping decisions in secrecy about a major public university. Here’s a suggestion for those who think their success in extracting wealth from the marketplace means they’re brilliant Renaissance People capable of running anything: take a few of those millions and buy some humility. Please.
For more on the subject, I recommend this Prospect article by another U.Va grad.