The UVa plot thickens further

Readers may recall this story:  Mannian paint by numbers? Connect the UVa dots and The plot thickens at UVa – Kington resigns

UVa has just re-instated ousted president Sullivan.

The University of Virginia board voted unanimously Tuesday afternoon to reinstate ousted President Teresa Sullivan, a rare reversal on the heels of two weeks of protests from faculty, students and alumni.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303640804577490951286399204.html

Maybe they’ll soon do a reversal on releasing Mann’s emails to legal FOIA requests?

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44 thoughts on “The UVa plot thickens further

  1. Everything I’ve read elsewhere is there is a conflict with the board, which wants reforms and the faculty, which doesn’t. The board wants more and faster reforms. The faculty is angry about the changes that have been made.

  2. Good.
    I think, but – what do I know about collegiate politics.
    Should this episode encourage others to be open about perceived problems – a big plus.
    Fingers – and other assorted appendages – crossed!
    Auto

  3. “Maybe they’ll soon do a reversal on releasing Mann’s emails to legal FOIA requests?”

    And maybe unicorns will fly? Hate to be such a cynic. They say optimists live longer.

  4. The Chronicle of Higher Education is also on the story.

    http://chronicle.com/article/U-of-Virginia-Board-Votes-to/132603/?cid=pm&utm_source=pm&utm_medium=en

    Both stories emphasize the fast (strategic business focus) versus slow (traditional, bloated high cost education) adaptation to a changing environment. Now, where AGW and “climate science” ann Mann’s endowed chair in the Environmental Science department fits is anyone’s guess.

    The boosters of Sullivan and the haters of Republicans and the putative “out of touch” rich is particularly evident in comments at both accounts. Just who were the constituents of BOV members Kington and Dragas remains unclear to me – other, than perhaps, seeing a chance to seize the initiative.

  5. An editorial in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal suggested that reinstating Sullivan would be a bow to the faculty, and not in the best interest of the University.

  6. A reversal on releasing Mann’s emails to legal FOIA requests?

    Yes. But could they first take Mike from us at Penn State?

  7. Mr. Watts,
    I assure you that the entire sorry incident had nothing to do with the issue of Michael Mann’s emails. The issues were almost entirely related to finance and worries about future changes in education and funding.

    Submitted with admiration and great respect for your contributions and efforts.

    REPLY: Thanks, the angle I was considering had to do with the hundreds ofthousands of dollars (some say up to a million now) spent on keeping Manns emails away from a valid FOIA request. Then there’s Kington’s involvement and the supposed offering of the Kington Chair to Mann. I agree none of this is the primary reason, but perhaps contributory. -Anthony

  8. They should have fired the deans too. The world is too big to worry about things such as these sorts of people.

  9. We are talking about people who recently saw nothing wrong with considering gender when deciding upon the validity of data.

  10. From reports I’ve seen the bone of contention that lead to Sullivan’s dismissal was a dispute between her and several board members about expanding the University’s presence in the online education market which the board members felt, quite correctly in my view, would be of increasing importance in both the near and long term future. Sullivan was apparently adamant in resisting these suggestions, which was what supposedly lead to her termination. The story about her reinstatement discussed the protests by faculty and students, but didn’t mention any compromises that might have been negotiated between the parties prior to the reinstatement.

  11. The accreditation agency for UVa, SACS, sent a letter yesterday indicating it viewed the Board of Visitors actions may have violated the standards of accreditation. Arne Duncan has recently increased the coercive power of the accreditors and reiterated they have veto power over participation in the federal student loan program.

    Thus no one can afford to violate the whims and desires of the accreditation agencies. Anthony this very much relates to Mann and climate change and sustainable development but not how you think. Here’s a post from several weeks ago explaining that the accreditors serve as the international enforcers for using education to obtain the social, political, and economic transformations the UN agencies want. A la Rio+20.

    http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/is-accreditation-the-enforcer-for-unescos-vision-of-solidarity/

    In the post I mention AdvancED. It is the holding company for most of the regional accreditors including SACS and also operates internationally. Its President recently tweeted from a school he was accrediting in Sicily.

  12. I’m an alum and have been getting an every-other-day stream of emails on the goings-on from the interim prez, the dean of my school, and the prez of the alumni association. All expressed bewilderment at what was perceived as a precipitous, at best, and shady, at worst, action by the Board. All effused over the support for Sullivan from the admin, the student body, the faculty, etc. There was also an apparently connected resignation by the chair of the board of trustees of one grad school’s foundation.

    Nowhere was there even a scintilla of a hint of a connection to Mann and the legal acrobatics over his papers. I would have thought that it would have occurred to someone that wasting $100Ks (and other resources) defending political liberalism at the expense of intellectual liberalism might have a connection.

    I fear as Bill Yarber that UVA is on a path to being a 2nd-class institution.

  13. What has become of the academic fraud allegations against her and “Walks with Lenin” (Elizabeth Warren)? They seem to make a good compliment to Mr. Mann and his fiscal philosophy.

  14. Well, hooray Robin @ 3:25. Lissen up, folks; there’s a quiz in the AM and I have no idea what’ll be asked.
    ===========

  15. Here’s an interesting quote from an earlier AP version of the story picked up by NPR;

    Emails that became public showed the roles Dragas and vice rector Mark Kington played in planning the ouster in the weeks ahead of the announcement and showed them exchanging links to articles addressing issues that surfaced in statements related to Sullivan’s removal. An email from Peter Kiernan, a top donor who chaired the Darden School Foundation, also surfaced, showing that he supported and had advance knowledge of the plan. Kiernan subsequently resigned from the foundation.

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=155786698

    Funny how the media thinks emails “becoming public” and “surfacing” are so useful in some instances.

    Of course, we can now anticipate a bunch of folks coming around complaining about “the chilling effect” that making emails public will have on the ability of college board members do their job.

  16. So Michael Mann will be getting his new chair after all.

    If he does get the position, then that is all this was about.

    If he doesn’t, well then it was about something else but I doubt it.

  17. Michael Bastedo… called her reinstatement “unprecedented.” The board, he said, “has been humbled,” and its unanimous vote “puts Sullivan in a very powerful position.”

    UVa President Teresa Sullivan was ousted by a consensus vote of the board. Then, just two weeks later, she is reinstated by a unanimous vote of the board. A consensus of highly educated people can sure reverse itself in a hurry! Aren’t these some of the same people who told us that a consensus in science is the end of all debate? I guess that rule only applies to science and not to any other areas in education. /sarc

  18. Being psychic, I think I can answer this question from Bluesky:

    Why does Watt get involved in this stuff. It had nothing to do with Mann.

    I’m guessing that Anthony is just checking up on a “where there’s smoke there’s fire” connection. My thought is that climate science and the conflict of the board are unrelated, but both flow from the internal rot that seeks funding over advancement of knowledge. However, since we do have a focus on UVA while we seek the Mann documents, its interesting to watch other controversies play out that may or may not connect.

    In particular, I’ve been watching the Instapundit reporting on the higher education bubble, and this particular controversy ties in with that. The bubble may pop when some university goes all in on online teaching and dominates all the others.

  19. I would note that nearly all funding of US higher education is controlled by the federal government. A state run University would be nearly fully dependent on such funds. Threaten their accreditation and you have a fully compliant board on any number of curricular or spending needs. Here in Chicago it’s called punching bag politics. We’ll hold you up and punch you as long as we need to because there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.

  20. I am surprised there are not comments about the online-educaton angle. There are many public universities being pressured by the state to produce revenue to stay alive. Universities can generate money. But that is not their lead mission. Pushing educators to deliver online courses in order to boost revenue is a way to make the universityseemingly more affordable, but in the long run irrelevant. Some other institution will come along and do it better and cheaper. Many of us should be able to consider the cloistered environment that allowed us to learn and explore. Many of us had wonderful opportunities that were nothing like the business transactions elsewhere in life.

    I have had training in environmental issues, biolgical issues, science and math that allow me to be a critical thinker and figure out when someone is trying to scam me with a scientific-y scare.

  21. Bill Yarber says:
    June 26, 2012 at 2:10 pm
    UVa will be a second class university by the end of this decade. Very sad!
    —————–

    Too late. It already is second class.

  22. thelastdemocrat says:
    “I have had training in environmental issues, biolgical issues, science and math that allow me to be a critical thinker and figure out when someone is trying to scam me with a scientific-y scare.”

    Sadly the vast majority of colleges talk alot about critical thinker… and make sure to do everything possible to make sure it never happens.

    Colleges are so over bloated with money now its insane. The college bubble must burst and will likely soon. College and education simply don’t belong in the sentence.

  23. Now wait just a cotton-pickin’ climate minute! You mean to tell me that the mourning phase just shifted from “Gleick” months to just two “Sullivan” weeks in about as many Gleick months? Now THAT’S progressive!!!

    On second-thought, Virginia IS for Lovers…………..

  24. The fight seemed intractable until late last week when Mr. McDonnell said he would replace all board members unless they made a public decision on whether Dr. Sullivan was in or out. The board met Tuesday afternoon …..

    That must have concentrated the minds of the board members. Faced with the loss of their board fees who could possibly resist? What they should have doe is call the meeting then when it convened,all resign en bloc then walk out!

  25. Bill Yarber says:
    June 26, 2012 at 2:10 pm
    UVa will be a second class university by the end of this decade. Very sad!

    Don’t understand why you think this debacle will improve its standing.

  26. pokerguy says:
    June 26, 2012 at 2:28 pm
    “Maybe they’ll soon do a reversal on releasing Mann’s emails to legal FOIA requests?”
    And maybe unicorns will fly? Hate to be such a cynic. They say optimists live longer.

    No, they say “pessimists are never disappointed!”

  27. Dave Wendt says:
    June 26, 2012 at 3:11 pm
    From reports I’ve seen the bone of contention that lead to Sullivan’s dismissal was a dispute between her and several board members about expanding the University’s presence in the online education market which the board members felt, quite correctly in my view, would be of increasing importance in both the near and long term future. Sullivan was apparently adamant in resisting these suggestions, which was what supposedly lead to her termination.

    You can’t build a support group from an online education program — it’s really, really *hard* to convince the accountants that computers need an increase in their health and retirement bennies…

  28. blue sky says:
    June 26, 2012 at 4:29 pm
    Why does Watt
    [sic] get involved in this stuff. It had nothing to do with Mann.

    WUWT provides “commentary on puzzling things in life, science, nature, weather, climate change, technology, and recent news…” Sez so right on the header.

    The header’s that colored thingy ‘way up top with the words (that you didn’t read) on it…

  29. Melinda Romanoff says:
    June 26, 2012 at 7:34 pm
    “I would note that nearly all funding of US higher education is controlled by the federal government.”

    I don’t believe this statement is true. A reference would be good.

    I can believe that research funding, in certain fields (high energy physics?) might be largely from the federal government. Otherwise, the university funding that I’m familiar with is from states, students, athletic departments and endowment.

  30. John W. Garrett says:
    June 26, 2012 at 2:47 pm
    Mr. Watts,
    I assure you that the entire sorry incident had nothing to do with the issue of Michael Mann’s emails. The issues were almost entirely related to finance and worries about future changes in education and funding.

    Submitted with admiration and great respect for your contributions and efforts.

    REPLY: Thanks, the angle I was considering had to do with the hundreds ofthousands of dollars (some say up to a million now) spent on keeping Manns emails away from a valid FOIA request. Then there’s Kington’s involvement and the supposed offering of the Kington Chair to Mann. I agree none of this is the primary reason, but perhaps contributory. -Anthony

    Anthony, that angle just isn’t coming through here very well. The faculty is anti-reform and is in favor of blocking anything that makes them more accountable, hence the support for blocking the FOIA requests. The faculty doesn’t understand that it’s not their money, it’s the tax-payers money. (I’m not a Virginia resident, but my Federal tax dollars still go to that school, BTW.)

    This mess as UVa has nothing to do with Mann, except perhaps that the effort and money spent to keep the public ignorant are symptoms of what’s wrong with America’s colleges and universities.

  31. Why does this UVa craziness remind me of Seinfeld’s ‘The Strongbox’ episode?

    UVa Board: “And so, for all these reasons, we are
    officially broken up. Thank you, and good night.”
    Sullivan: “No, we’re not.”
    Uva Board: “But we proved it!”
    Sullivan: “I refuse to give up on this relationship. It’s like launching
    missiles from a submarine. Both of us have to turn our keys.”
    UVa Board: “Well, then, I am gonna have to ask you to turn your key.”
    Sullivan: “I’m sorry, I can’t do that.”
    UVa Board: “Turn your key, Teresa. Turn your key!”
    Sullivan: “You don’t mean that.”
    UVa Board: “Why does it seem like we’re the only side working at this breakup?”
    Sullivan: “I listened to your arguments, and they were rambling and flimsy. I’m not convinced. Come on, Let’s get some dinner.”
    Uva Board: “All right.”

  32. I am a trustee of a college, and I am rather disappointed in the outcome here. It couldn’t be worse for UVa. I helped to remove a President, and I know that doing so is a difficult fight. Even the worst President will have cultivated allies, including the student body, to help them maintain a status quo. The Board has to be steeley-eyed in this regard.

    In most instances the hiring and firing of a President is soley the function of the Board. That this Board turned around 180 degrees and reinstated a President only diminishes the ability of the Board to govern the college. The preception will be now that whatever the Board does in the future involves a conspiracy, and that the Board is easily rolled. UVa now has no effective governance.

    No accediting agency has any say at all in hiring and firing a president. Moreover, the accrediting agencies are creations of the colleges themselves and offer more no effective quality control at any college than does a fig-leaf offer cover of nakedness in public. The Inspector General advocated to the Dept of Education within the past couple of years that HLC (An office within the North Central Association) be decertified because they apparently had too liberal a view of what consitutes college credit.

    While individual faculty members at every institution have a great deal of wisdom, no college can be run by the faculty. Nor can it be run by the administration, who always have multile agendas and intrigues going on at any one time.. And it cannot be run by students, even though we all pray at the alter of “The institution is run for the benefit of the students.”

    Pity UVa.

  33. Guys, give it a rest…

    In the entire history of public institution boards none have ever committed to such an abrupt about face for any reason other than “on the advice of our lawyers.”

    Here’s my bet: she was fired because of her association with Ms. Warren and will be leaving, once the lawsuits are settled, for the same reason.

  34. Discuss Contemplative Science Center and its implications. Don’t feel bad, I flunked it, too.
    =================

  35. Kevin Kilty says:
    June 27, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    Pity UVa.

    Pity and Schadenfreude are completely incompatible.

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