It’s been two weeks since I first posted “Strange Doings at UVA” which remarked on the unexpected resignation of President Theresa Sullivan.
What a week it’s been. After multiple meetings and non-explanations, the Board of Visitors seems primed to finally do the right thing, i.e. by rescinding its ”termination” and reinstating President Sullivan (assuming she wants to come back).
Once that’s done, the Governor should request the resignation of the entire Board and start fresh. Meanwhile, the next Assembly should reform the current system of higher education. Here are a few needed reforms:
1. Reduce the numbers. The current Boards are too numerous, which simply leaves all the power in the hands of a few committed people.
2. Require professionalism. Currently, Board membership is reserved for high-level political donors. Going forward, all members should be required to undergo training and spend a minmum amount of time on campus. They should receive a stipend.
3. Standardize performance. The Board should have an executive committee which measures the performance of college Presidents based upon objective measures such as financial health, fundraising, national ranking, job placement, etc. The public should be allowed to participate in the evaluations.
4. Term Limits at the Top. While I support President Sullivan, I personally think that the “President for Life” model at our universities is a mistake. (name your example). Presidents that are in office too long exert too much influence on the Board. The President of the U.S. is capped at eight years.
We need independent Boards for our state institutions. There has to be some institutional control. But we can’t keep appointing people just because they laid down a five-figure check at a cocktail party for Governor X.