Mannian paint by numbers? Connect the UVa dots

American Palladianism: The Rotunda at the Univ...

The Rotunda at the University of Virginia, designed in the Palladian manner by Thomas Jefferson. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

[UPDATE: 4:30PM PST The plot thickens. Breitbart is reporting that Sullivan has a history with scientific misconduct charges, as well as investigations that exonerate without actually asking the tough questions. h/t to reader Holly Martin ]

Hmmm, this is more than a little strange. From the Examiner: The Board of Visitors announces: UVa President Teresa Sullivan will step down

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Early on Sunday morning (6/10/2012), UVa Alumni received a stunning email sent by Helen E. Dragas, Rector, and Mark Kington, Vice Rector of the University of Virginia Board of Visitors, that conveyed startling news:

On behalf of the Board of Visitors, we are writing to tell you that the Board and President Teresa Sullivan today mutually agreed that she will step down as president of the University of Virginia effective August 15, 2012.

In January of 2010, President Sullivan had been unanimously elected by UVa’s governing Board.  Rector John O. Wynne, who had chaired the board’s special committee on the nomination of a President, had described Teresa Sullivan as a person of integrity and vision, and “an extraordinary talent who brings to the University an enormous depth and breadth of experience in every aspect of public higher education.”

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Now, after reading that, wondering about the abruptness of it all, try to connect these dots:

  • Environmental Sciences, at the behest of the Dean of Science, votes to offer Mike Mann the Kington Chair, which was designated as going to a climate person. See Climate Depot story here.
  • Mark Kington, a member of the Board (and Vice Rector) gets wind of it.
  • Kington calls a quorum of the Board of Visitors and fires Sullivan.
  • Maybe this is idle speculation, but why did they have to fire her so quickly and on a Sunday morning? And, just 15 months after her inauguration? Couldn’t it have waited until their next meeting? Inquiring minds want to know!!!

The official firing line is: “A philosophical difference of opinion”. Given what was said about Sullivan at the outset, surely this does not merit an action like this done in stealth mode on a weekend with the bare minimum quorum? This doesn’t pass the sniff test, something smells fishy to me.

In the middle of all this, during Sullivan’s brief tenure, we have UVa spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on legal contortions trying to prevent Mann’s UVa emails from seeing the sunlight of FOIA requests.

Let the speculation begin.

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Latimer Alder

He’s got something very disturbing on her and offered her the choice to either resign or to read mikey’s book and attend one of his lectures. She chose the course of least resistance. Wise move.

Henry chance

Did he get unfriended at Penn State?
The big deal in the background is these sticky incidents hamper donations. Now if some donor at VA says he won’t donate, the Board gets the message the President of the university ignored. VA just doesn’t need the bad publicity.
Fired early before Church. I still think Mann’s hiring is still at risk.
She may have been told to kill the deal and refused.

GaryS

Sometimes coming to WUWT is like visiting a real media outlet, which is almost non-existent these days. It’s oftentimes as if Anthony Watts is an honest-n-true journalist intent on breaking and “sniffing” out stories. Huh. And I thought this just some nerdy science site. (don’t hit me, I mean well)

Gilbert K. Arnold

To paraphrase Lewis Carroll: “Curiouser and curiouser”

Yep, just speculation, but I like it so far !!

As always in these things, look at the language carefully, since this has clearly been parsed by a team of lawyers. They work hard not to say anything that anyone could take offense at, BUT if you look carefully you can see that they are also telling all of us quite a lot with this announcement.
Often one sees in these things that he or she “left to pursue other interests”, or “has decided to resign for personal reasons” after which the board will express its condolences. But that is NOT what was said here; instead it was:
“we are writing to tell you that the Board and President Teresa Sullivan today mutually agreed that she will step down”
Not hard to see that she was quite clearly fired with no regrets on the part of the Board, who this points out agreed with this outcome wholeheartedly.

Luther Bl't

President Sullivan has noted the effect of Gleik on Heartland donations?

ferdberple

The Mann Stick – tree calibration
If you have 100 trees and 99 correlate with temperature, then they are quite likely good proxies and it will do no harm to the analysis to include the 1 one tree that didn’t calibrate.
But if you have 200 trees and only 99 correlate with temperature, then the 101 trees that don’t calibrate tell you that the other 99 are probably not very good proxies either.
In this case you want to include the 101 that didn’t correlate, so you don’t over estimate the confidence and under estimate the error in the result.
However if you only report the trees that do calibrate, then both groups of 99 trees will appear of equal quality when in fact the first group is very likely a much better proxy than the second.
This leads to spurious conclusions because you will then weight each group of trees equal in reliability when in fact they are not at all equal.
The problem is that climate science (hockey stick) hides the trees that don’t correlate which makes all trees look like equally good proxies, even when a high number of trees in a sample are telling you they are not reliable.

Ray

http://i45.tinypic.com/b68vhi.jpg
Color Palette: 1=2=3=4=5=6=7=8= etc

TerryMN

[SNIP: If that was meant to be funny it is in fact defamatory. If you are serious, provide a link. -REP]

Alan

It’s hard to “connect the dots” when I don’t understand the significance of the “dots” or the people involved. Can you provide more background information? Inquiring minds certainly do want to know!

Alan S. Blue

Ferd Berple:
It’s much more like 9,990 that don’t correlate, 7 that correlate weakly, an upside-down lake sediment study, YAD061 and a Greybill stripbark bristlecone that strongly correlate. Until 1960.

Skiphil

Wow, this is a huge happening, whatever the reason(s). Major universities virtually never have a President serve such a brief term. Although the presidential terms aren’t as commonly a decade or two the way they used to be, I can recall very few cases of a term less than 5-8 years for a president of a major university. And to basically fire her so abruptly, well yes, this is big news in the education world, whatever the cause(s). Also, there was much hoopla about Sullivan as the first woman president at UVa, so the Board would not make waves like this unless they thought there was compelling reason.
Actually, the Board might have decided that Pres. Sullivan was unbearably shallow because she invited Katie Couric to be the 2012 Commencement Speaker:
Katie Couric on getting her call from President Sullivan
[from Katie Couric’s 2012 commencement address to UVa, re waiting for invitation to be Commencement Speaker for UVa]: “….but year after year that call never came … but finally, this year, the call came from Terry Sullivan. I guess it took the first woman to lead the University in 193 years to get the job done!”

kim

29 months.
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beesaman

Academic infighting don’t you love it, no wonder I’m thinking about going back into teaching K-12!

Skiphil

Mods, the link on this thread to the Inside Higher Ed item doesn’t seem to work. This is the link I found after a search on that site (different number in the date):
http://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2012/06/08/breaking-virginia-president-split-board-resigns

EternalOptimist

She left in the same way she arrived, fired with enthusiasm

kim

She shook up the finances. Cherchez la Femme, Maria Theresa’s Almighty Thaler.
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polistra

A univ president’s job is fund-raising. Nothing more, nothing less.
If a president gets fired, it’s because of poor fund-raising one way or another. Either she did something specific that caused big alumni to close their wallets, or she’s generally behaving in a way that displeases the big donors.

where’s det. insp. mosher?

Auto

Is Sullivan the Mann-prop? Or are the Board (Kington and his faction) really on the Hockey-stick Team?
In the UK – with little knowledge of – and rather less interest in – College politics (our own national politics require a headache pill every time you think of them!): – sorry. something plainly causes nasal receptor overload.
But – what? Pass.

pesadia

Connect the dots eh
Well let me see: 2+2= err um
this is very much a work in progress, but I will get back to you all!
Er um

Universities are facing the higher ed bubble that will doom many. Administrative expenses have skyrocketed resulting in massive tuition increases.
Open course ware, Khan Academy type educations will be cheap. There are no jobs, so why go into debt for 100,000?
And Mann’s coverup turns off half or more of your potential students. They can and will go elsewhere.

Latimer Alder

Update.
My earlier suggestion that the alternative offered to Sullivan was ‘to read mikey’s book and attend one of his lectures’ was clearly in error. I withdraw the suggestion that Mr. Kington would have ever offered such a cruel and unusual (and unconstitutional) alternative. She went of her own accord. 🙂

Louis Hooffstetter

If Mark Kington, member of the Board and Vice Rector, fired Sullivan to prevent Mann from getting the Kington Chair, I heartily applaud his actions (regardless of how politically and/or financially motivated they may be)!

David, UK

wws says:
June 11, 2012 at 12:42 pm
“we are writing to tell you that the Board and President Teresa Sullivan today mutually agreed that she will step down”
Not hard to see that she was quite clearly fired with no regrets on the part of the Board, who this points out agreed with this outcome wholeheartedly.

Wow, Sherlock, did you work that out all by yourself?

eyesonu

I could not imagine UVA bringing Mann back, much less offering an honor of any sort with regards to climate related science. He and the UVA cover-up / refusal to release documents has caused tremendous damage to UVA’s repetation. Mann did to UVA what Phil Jones did to EAU. Only UVA staff made it much worse. I would not hire from either of these universities.
Interesting that she was placed in her position just 2 months after Climategate I. Would this be related in any way?
Are we seeing a legal maneuver or are some seeing the writing on the wall? I hope it’s the latter.

Skiphil

Probably had a lot to do with fundraising and budgetary issues. If she was not seen as highly effective in getting UVa’s financial issues in order then that would create the context in which they were ready to move her aside quickly:
UVa budget problems
[from article at link]:
Also among those raising concerns was Vice Rector Mark Kington.
“We have to rethink the scope of our operations,” he said.
Later, he added: “As long as we don’t make the tough choices, we’re dragging the entire institution down.”

Dan in California

Luther Bl’t says: June 11, 2012 at 12:45 pm
President Sullivan has noted the effect of Gleik on Heartland donations?
——————————————————
So please tell us the trend in Heartland donations. Or did I miss this in a recent thread?

Phil.

polistra says:
June 11, 2012 at 1:12 pm
A univ president’s job is fund-raising. Nothing more, nothing less.
If a president gets fired, it’s because of poor fund-raising one way or another. Either she did something specific that caused big alumni to close their wallets, or she’s generally behaving in a way that displeases the big donors.

One way or the other it’s about money, the budget was submitted last month, there appears to be concern about faculty salaries and the ability to attract new faculty to replace retirements.

Tom in Worcester

She also co-authored a book with Massachusetts senatorial candidate Elizabeth Warren. Over the past week or so some uncomfortable questions about the “metholdology” and facts that they used have come up.
So it may have nothing to do with Mann.

Gunga Din

Louis Hooffstetter says:
June 11, 2012 at 1:26 pm
If Mark Kington, member of the Board and Vice Rector, fired Sullivan to prevent Mann from getting the Kington Chair, I heartily applaud his actions (regardless of how politically and/or financially motivated they may be)!
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A question: Did Kington have access to the files Sullivan and Mann are trying hide?

Neo

“… because she invited Katie Couric to be the 2012 Commencement Speaker .. ”
I doubt this. My college commencement had the President for the School of Clowns of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus as a speaker, so nothing could be worse.

Latimer Alder

@Dan in California
According to Heartland, the nett effect of the Gleick affair has been to increase their income. While some corporate donors have withdrawn their monies have been more than offset by an increase in individual donations.
So Gleick, in attempting by underhand means to discredit the Heartland Institute, has actually strengthened their position. I do not think I will be hiring him as my ‘strategy adviser’ on this showing. His ‘talents’ must lie elsewhere.

I wouldn’t jump the gun. More than likely this was a simple difference of opinion. Sounds as if the University has financial problems, perhaps it is something as simple as “things are much worse than she was admitting”. At best Mann might have been the straw that broke the camel’s back.
On the other hand. …

more soylent green!

Too much speculation here for my tastes — despite my strong dislike for Dr. Mann and his poor science.

Tom in Worcester

You know how fast and loose these “Moonbat” types play with the truth. That is until people start to take a closer look at their work.
Either way, this is going to be interesting.

LamontT

“Dan in California says:
June 11, 2012 at 1:37 pm
So please tell us the trend in Heartland donations. Or did I miss this in a recent thread?”
==============================================
Up. Hearthland donations have gone up significantly since the fakegate.

kramer

What’s the significance of “the Kington Chair?”
If Mann were to get this, does it give him any say or influence over the release of his old emails? Does it give him access to his old email account such that once he got it, he can delete his old emails?

Gail Combs

Alan says:
June 11, 2012 at 12:55 pm
It’s hard to “connect the dots” when I don’t understand the significance of the “dots” or the people involved. Can you provide more background information? Inquiring minds certainly do want to know!
_____________________________
That is a bit of a hard one. It has been a long legal battle. The Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, went after Mann’s E-mails as “discovery” in a case of misuse of taxpayer funds in the wake of the Climategate e-mails and the trashing of the “Hockey Stick graph” by Steve McIntyre.
It went all the way to the Virginia Supreme Court which held that the University of Virginia is not a “person” subject to a “Civil Investigative Demand” from the attorney general.
So the second salvo was fired. A FOIA from ATI (Dr. David Schnare) At this point things got sticky. UVA calls the documents “proprietary” and something they don’t want their competitors to have. However they gave copies to Michael Mann who works at Penn State. Penn State compete for research grants, quality students and quality faculty, and thus is a REAL competitor of UVA.
The judge doesn’t seem too impressed, especially with his “purity of heart” remark..
Here are links to the story as it unfolded
http://wattsupwiththat.com/tag/uva/
http://wattsupwiththat.com/tag/university-of-virginia/
http://http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/08/27/ati-press-release-on-the-mann-uva-emails/
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/08/24/mann-uva-emails-released/
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/11/02/michael-mann-wades-into-the-uva-thicket-as-intervenor/
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/01/26/first-look-at-michael-manns-uva-emails/
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/02/06/status-update-on-uvamann-foia-legal-fight/
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/03/02/virginia-ag-loses-in-mann-uva-litigation-with-prejudice/
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/04/25/atis-video-pitch-on-the-mann-uva-case/
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/05/02/court-fight-manns-lawyer-and-uva-counsel-vs-ati/

Inside baseball:
In April, the Department of Environmental Sciences voted to offer the Kington Chair, donated by Board of Visitors’ Vice-Rector Mark Kington, to Mike Mann. This was Mann’s Department when he was at UVa.
The vote was at the urging of Associate Dean for the Sciences, James Galloway, who also is a very powerful member of the Environmental Sciences Department faculty. He is a far-left greenie, and pretty ruthless. But, such an appointment has to be approved by the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Meredith Woo.
My Enviornmental Science contacts down there are minimizing the Department’s activity, under the assumption that Dean Woo would surely have enough sense to not go along with the Deparment’s vote. That being said, UVa is a “Chair-oriented” university, with the Dean usually not interfering with departmental hiring votes. So it is quite possible that it was approved. I have no information about this and my “friends” have clammed up.
Kington was one of three BOV members who met to recommend Sullivan’s termination/resignation. Whether Mann and the Department were any factor in this, whether it ever got to the level of the University President (it should have), and what she would have done about it are things that we just do not know.
One thing is certain: “philosophical differences” aren’t sufficient to support such a drastic and sudden action against a person who I believe was genuinely liked by most everyone there. Nor is a slight donor shortfall. Nor is a decline in research funding because the “stimulus” money ran out (Mann had, I think, about $600K in stimulus money at PSU).
One candidate is that her sacking of Leonard Sandridge, the COO with Charlottesville connections that go back to the ice age, may have encouraged revenge, and this was it. Whatever, it is dark, dirty and unseemly behavior that begs for a real explanation.

Steve C

My own alma mater (the University of Nottingham) awards “The Order of the Boot” (Ordo Caligulae) to alumni who do exceptional service to the University. This is an in joke based on the fact that Jesse Boot, of Boots the Chemists, donated the land on which the Uni is built.
Sounds like UVa are borrowing the title, if not in the same spirit. Sounds like we should watch this space!

Ace

Why would Kington be so upset over the Mann appointment that he’d force Sullivan out? And wouldn’t Kington have had some say in who was offered the Chair? There’s a couple of dots that need more connecting here, imho.

crosspatch

This looks like a money issue and either she was either not “bold” enough in her cutting of expenses or not “bold enough” in her increasing the cash flow. Judging from the comment Skiphil posted June 11, 2012 at 1:03 pm, this would seem to be a key concern:

The pace of change in higher education and in health care has accelerated greatly in the last two years. We have calls internally for resolution of tough financial issues that require hard decisions on resource allocation. The compensation of our valued faculty and staff has continued to decline in real terms, and we acknowledge the tremendous task ahead of making star hires to fill the many spots that will be vacated over the next few years as our eminent faculty members retire in great numbers. These challenges are truly an existential threat to the greatness of UVA,” the statement said.

What I seem to hear from that is “health care costs are rising quickly, salaries in academia are rising quickly, our faculty has seen their compensation decline, we need ‘bold’ action”. They want someone who will allow them to jack up salaries.

R.S.Brown

Steve:
ODD MANN OUT ?
When Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia, it was to provide
an educational alternative for Virginia residents beyond the philosophically
hidebound (especially in science) teaching available at Catholic-based William
and Mary.
From the UVA Rector Dragas’ Remarks to VPs and Deans at:
http://www.virginia.edu/uvatoday/newsRelease.php?id=18791

Nevertheless, the Board feels strongly and overwhelmingly that we need bold and proactive leadership on tackling the difficult issues that we face. The pace of change in higher education and in health care has accelerated greatly in the last two years. We have calls internally for resolution of tough financial issues that require hard decisions on resource allocation. The compensation of our valued faculty and staff has continued to decline in real terms, and we acknowledge the tremendous task ahead of making star hires to fill the many spots that will be vacated over the next few years as our eminent faculty members retire in great numbers. These challenges are truly an existential threat to the greatness of UVA. (emphasis added)

May we infer that Mike Mann is not the kind of “star hire”
the Board of Rectors is looking for ?
Does the overtly espoused philosophy and alleged behind-the-scenes
underhanded “scientific” and political activities of Mike Mann not
square with the Jeffersonian precepts that the Rectors seek to uphold ?

Keith Pearson, formerly bikermailman, Anonymous no longer

Looking at it from another direction, and I could be full of peas, not knowing the personal interactions involved: Is it possible that the Board is on Mann’s side, and she tried to rein them in on both the Chair offering and the megabucks they’re spending fighting the email releases? Could she have told them to knock it off, and they gave her the boot? Again, I realize I could be way off base.

R.S.Brown

Steve:
Sorry, that should have been Church of England instead of Catholic based.
There was a difference… but not much when it came to the sciences.

Gunga Din

Neo says:
June 11, 2012 at 1:49 pm
“… because she invited Katie Couric to be the 2012 Commencement Speaker .. ”
I doubt this. My college commencement had the President for the School of Clowns of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus as a speaker, so nothing could be worse.
===============================================================
Oh, I dunno. How about Al Gore?

eyesonu

Gail Combs says:
June 11, 2012 at 2:16 pm
=========
Good summary of links.
Newcomers to WUWT need to get in on what it’s all about with Mann and UVA. I don’t believe the MSN has touched on it much. Mann has been near the center of a lot of the mess with hockey sticks and CAGW and all the related issues.

Gail Combs

The “official ” reason is money.

UVa ousts Sullivan as president
…a conversation with UVa vice presidents and deans Sunday morning, Rector of the University Helen Dragas said the university faces tough challenges in the coming years, including financial pressures.
To help deal with those challenges, Dragas said, the university needs faster changes in administrative structure and fundraising efforts. She also listed challenges facing the university in the future, including limited tuition increases, falling support from the federal government and a decline in faculty compensation.
“The compensation of our valued faculty and staff has continued to decline in real terms, and we acknowledge the tremendous task ahead of making star hires to fill the many spots that will be vacated over the next few years as our eminent faculty members retire in great numbers,” Dragas said. “These challenges are truly an existential threat to the greatness of UVa.”
Dragas went on to say that the financial picture for the university is not as sunny as the board would like, and a new leader was needed to resolve funding issues and answer calls Dragas said came from within the university to make tough budget decisions.
“We see no bright lights on the financial horizon as we face limits on tuition increases, an environment of declining federal support, state support that will be flat at best, and pressures on health care payors,” Dragas said. “This means that as an institution, we have to be able to prioritize and reallocate the resources we do have, and that our best avenue for increasing resources will be through passionate articulation of a vision and effective development efforts to support it.”…
At a news conference Sunday, Dragas said changes in higher education, as well as healthcare, in part prompted the change.
“We had a philosophical difference about the vision of the future of the university,” she said. “We are living in a time of rapid accelerated change in both academia, as well as in healthcare, two areas in which we operate large enterprises.”
Dragas declined to elaborate….