Monday, June 18, 2012

U-Va Meets Dallas: Will the Weasel Strategy Work?

by Meg Curtis

Shenanigans at U-Va pull the curtain back on university politics. Who is the Wizard of Oz now? The Washington Post's latest report stuns readers with the backstabbing and raw ambition of wannabe university dictators. 

At, readers will find all the thrills of the Dallas sequel and then some.

Fancy a board member conducting negotiations completely away from the consideration of tenured professors and researchers, whose work constantly reinvigorates U-Va's reputation. These contributors attract top-notch scholars and students, generation upon generation. Meanwhile, what has Ms. Dragas, board "leader," ever done to demonstrate her expertise on the affairs of academia?

Like a lead in a new episode of the old TV show Dallas, this is what Dragas did, according to the Post's record of events:

"Sullivan’s brief tenure in effect ended a week ago after the leader of U-Va.’s Board of Visitors, Helen E. Dragas, told the enormously popular president that she had enough votes to remove her. The Board of Visitors never met or took a vote on Sullivan’s ouster. Instead, Dragas spoke to board members individually over a series of months." 

Academic meetings can really be fun, if the talking points go right:

Let's hear it for democracy on the collegiate level!  Let's hear a lecture on the basis for authority. Let's sit down for a cozy chat about role models, so dear to the hearts of educators. Or maybe it's time to research the behavior of politicians who thrive only behind closed doors. The university's experts on Zoology must have a Power Point somewhere on the Classic Weasel?    

The fallout from nonexistent academic affairs meetings already comes clear in the title of the Post's article: "W-Va donors threaten to withhold funds over ouster of president," by Anita Kumar and Daniel de Vise, published on June 17. Advanced seminars on U-VA politics are just beginning with events scheduled for June 18. Don't miss a single class!

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