Sunday, June 24, 2012

McDonnell's Teachable Moment on UVA's Presidency

The saying goes "you can't unring a bell," however one always has the option to ring it again, if it's not stolen or destroyed.  The University of Virginia Board of Visitors hired Dr. Teresa Sullivan, before it effectively fired her.  The Board meets Tuesday to put this issue to rest.  Will the Board, minus one Vice Rector Mark Kington, make the same decision, this time with a forma vote?

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell turned strict father by telling the board to do it right Tuesday or they'll all be fired.  McDonnell's office was clearly in the loop on Sullivan's resignation, as evidenced by the Governor's June 10 press release.

Which McDonnell will come to fore in the coming week, the one with effusive praise for Sulivan?

"(Sullivan) has fulfilled her duties with honor, energy and good stewardship. In addition, President Sullivan has been a great partner with our Administration in our efforts to increase access and affordability at Virginia’s colleges and universities. Through her leadership, Virginia added nearly 1,000 new student slots and recently enacted the lowest yearly tuition increase in over a decade."

Or the McDonnell who believed a more "right individual" exists to lead Mr. Jefferson's University?. 

"I have great confidence that the Board of Visitors will conduct a thorough and diligent search for the next President of the University and will find the right individual for this prestigious and pivotal post." 

UVA's designated Interim President Carl Zeithaml is on hold until Tuesday's board meeting.  Zeithaml proposed this situation be a teachable moment.  I don't recall many teachable moments with clear rectification.  They seem to be more "It's over, let's talk about it and move on."

The last public teachable moment got a black man and a police officer a beer with President Obama at the White House.

What might Governor McDonnell offer to Rector Helen Dragas and President Sullivan?  I suggest McDonnell dig into Virginia history and offer a peace pipe and smallpox blanket.  The question is who gets which?

Update 6-27-12:  Dr. Teresa Sullivan got the peace pipe and reinstatement as UVA's President