'Spines need stiffening' Casteen leading protest charge
According to an email sent to colleagues from UVA English Department chair Cynthia Wall on June 16, former UVA President John Casteen has been working to "protest the process, content, and consequences" of the decision by the UVA Board of Visitors to remove President Sullivan. Wall says that Casteen has written a "powerful, eloquent letter to Governor McDonnell outlining the damage that has been and will be done."
"And let the pressure keep coming from us as well," writes Wall, encouraging fellow school chairs, faculty, staff, and students to gather in large numbers on the Lawn on Monday, June 18 at 3pm for the BOV's scheduled meeting.
McDonnell, however, has not seemed to share the outrage that Casteen and the University community expressed for the BOV's actions. To date, McDonnell has taken an ostensibly hands-off approach to the situation, saying he had no pre-knowledge of the BOV's intention to remove Sullivan and did not want to "meddle" in the BOV's affairs. He has also expressed confidence in the BOV's judgement and asked the University to move "swiftly" to name an interim President.
As the Hook reported, financier and UVA alum Paul Tudor Jones II appears to have had a key role in removing Sullivan, as her ouster may have been a condition of a major donation from the Greenwich, Connecticut billionaire. However, Jones also had a key role in McDonnell's 2009 election campaign as a major donor, giving the candidate $100,000.
Meanwhile, Jones appears to be busy trying to influence this year's Presidential election. In May, the The Hartford Courant ran an article tiled Greenwich: Ground Zero For Campaign Cash, naming Tudor as one of the super rich who had gathered at a 10,000-square-foot, 10-bathroom Greenwich mansion to raise money for Restore Our Future, the Super PAC (which allows for limitless donations to candidates) supporting Mitt Romney for President. Tudor ponied up $200,000. Back in 2008, Tudor worked in similar fashion for President Obama, organizing fundraisers and donating the same amount.
"He's come full circle: 180 degrees opposite,'' a Republican State senator told the Courant. "All of the hedge fund guys I know are squarely with Gov. Romney. Paul Tudor Jones is the poster boy for that movement.''
Meanwhile, Jones could become the poster boy for a different kind of movement at UVA. In an op-ed printed in the Daily Progress, Jones placed himself front and center in the debate, endorsing Sullivan's ouster by summoning the spirit of Jefferson, and poet John Keats as well.
"The Board of Visitors has just told each and every one of us that it is aspiring to greatness," writes Jones. "It is about time, and we should all be elated."
Wall, meanwhile, passed along a message from a "well-connected alum" who said: "the size of the crowd on the Lawn Monday at 3 pm may actually be quite influential. Spines need stiffening."
"History, Politics, Economics, and Batten are all walking over together as departments," says Wall about Monday's gathering, "we can do the same from Bryan."
"As a school of Leadership and Public Policy, many faculty felt strongly that we were called to weigh into the debate," says Jeanine Braithwaite, faculty senator for the Batten School. "Some of us even think we will be teaching this as a classic case of failed corporate governance in the near future."
The plan, said Wall, is not to "picket or rabble-rouse," but to "look effective and dignified en masse."
Wall also encouraged faculty to attend a Father's Day Faculty Senate meeting June 17 at the Darden Abbott Auditorium at 5pm, where various faculty groups, including the Senate, the Arts & Sciences Steering Committee and the Council of Chairs have been meeting throughout the week with University leadership to discuss the situation.
According to a story in the Washington Post, which takes readers inside Sullivan's office the day she was fired, the ousted President has hired prominent higher-education attorney Raymond Cotton, who happened to write an article for the Chronicle of Higher Education a few years ago that the BOV may have wished they'd read:
"Savvy boards understand that a public confrontation with the president can affect the institution's fund raising and accreditation, as well as the board's ability to attract a top-flight successor to the presidency."
The Post also says that Sullivan, who has been silent so far, will meet privately with the BOV.
On June 8, the Post reports, University Rector Helen E. Dragas and Vice Rector Mark Kington appear to have walked into Sullivan’s office at Madison Hall late in the day, unannounced, and told her she was out. Sullivan, the Post reports, was "speechless."
Later, Dragas informed "Sullivan and husband Douglas Laycock, a tenured law professor, to leave the presidential home at the end of July, two weeks before her official Aug. 15 departure."
At the end of her email, Wall passed along a message she had received from History Department chair Brian Owensby.
"It is important that the faculty make its presence felt and both meetings," said Owensby. "Big decisions will be made in the next few days with the potential to affect the University and our lives in it for years to come. We should keep front and center as well that this matter has spilled beyond Charlottesville. All eyes are on us as we grapple with the challenges faced by higher education generally and public universities in particular during a time of diminished state support and intrusion on the faculty's role as stewards of the academic mission of American higher education."
Updated 6/16/12 10:50pm
Updated again 6/17/12 10:57amThis story is a part of the The ousting of a president special.Read more on: Teresa Sullivan