Monday, 4 March 2013

My Neighborhood

Last year, we had a pretty heated episode brew up at the University of Virginia....down in Charlottesville. For those who haven't heard of Charlosttesville....it's smaller Virginia town in the south of the state, with the claim of fame being the town next to Monticello (Thomas Jefferson's home).

The University had a Chancellor by the name of Teresa Sullivan.  Based on the description of her background....she was liked by the community and generally an executive who connected to students.  On the negative side....the college board....had visions of the University of Virginia going in a different direction.  It's safe to say that they realized that she just didn't have the business talents that they felt was necessary.....so they wanted her gone.

Well...student and local reaction went in a totally different direction, and a couple of weeks later....Chancellor Sullivan was back at her job.

In the last couple of months....Virginia's governor got into the mess, appointing a new Rector to the school board.  The way this business works....it's kinda like a business operation.  The Chancellor is the figurehead or CEO, but the board and it's chairman (the Rector) can put a list of goals out in front of the Chancellor and demand that they move in this direction.

Back in the fall....the Chancellor listed out a couple of goals and felt pretty safe that they were achievable and within the limits of her office.

Here in the last month....the Rector handed the Chancellor a list of 56 goals.  You can imagine the shock on the Chancellor's face with this list.  She immediately came back and said they were micromanaging the school and this list of 56 goals was not exactly something that you could accomplish in the time that she has.

I sat and looked over at the Rector.  Helen Dragas is the appointee by the Governor.  Her background?  Business.  She's not a lifetime university player.  She has a fair amount of knowledge on how you build and operate a business operation.

So what is this whole argument about?  Generally, the Washington Post and the rest of the Virginia newspapers tend to skip over this part of the argument....focusing mostly on the terrible woes of the Chancellor and the unfairness of 56 goals.

What the state leadership wants....is to turn the University of Virginia into a major operation....getting deeper into government research programs, government funding, science projects of a national-level, and this would all relate to bringing big name educators and professors to the university.  They want a big step up, and they know that Chancellor Sullivan is the type that simply maintains status quo and makes the local community happy.

If you asked most folks around Charlottesville, they'd say that the university is a nice quiet community and they like things the way they are.  They aren't exactly jumping on this wagon of growth and expansion.

As for the 56 goals?  That's a strange thing.  No one will talk publicly or mention in any news piece....what the 56 goals are for the current Chancellor.

The end result?  I'd predict a new Chancellor selected by this fall.  The longer this mess continues....the more comical it gets.