Last year the board at the University of Virginia fired its very capable president, Teresa Sullivan. There was no formal process of review or evaluation. The chair just polled some members by telephone and then told Sullivan to resign. All hell broke loose and the board was forced to backtrack and rehire Sullivan. More details are in Gregory Hays’ article in the New York Review of May 22nd 2014.
On January 15th the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina told its very capable president, Tom Ross, to retire next year, when he will reach the ripe old age of 65. There was no process of review or evaluation. Ross was just told to leave. The board said he was doing a fine job and they got along well with him; they just wanted a change. That sounds disingenuous: Ross is known to be a Democrat and they are Republican appointees. They gave no justification for their summary action, but clearly they want their own person in charge of the 17 campus UNC system.
For a while the similarities between UVA and UNC seemed to end right there. The faculty at UVA had spoken loud and clear and the citizens of the Commonwealth joined them in defending Mr. Jefferson’s university. The faculty at UNC Chapel Hill has seemed to dither, honing its skill of looking the other way, much as it did when an academic scandal over no-show classes came to light last year. In each case the emeriti had to scold their successors to take action.
But now there is a petition calling for Ross’ reinstatement. Here’s the link to the petition (https://www.change.org/p/unc-board-of-governors-reinstate-tom-ross). None of our business, if we’re not in the UNC system? No! Board action of this sort is an infection that will spread through public higher education, unless strong counter-measures are taken. Please help.