However badly things seem to be going for UNC-Chapel Hill these days, they could be worse. Thats the lesson from Charlottesville, where the University of Virginias governing board has forced out the campus president without making it clear why and in a cloak-and-dagger manner thats prompted widespread comment in the commonwealth.
To the extent that the board has made known its reasons, the action seems hasty and single-minded. Cavalier, you might say.
Apparently, some on the Board of Visitors (the governing body) and most notably Rector Helen Dragas (the rector heads the board), felt UVa President Teresa Sullivan, just two years into the job, wasnt active enough on the online education front, failing to keep up with the Stanfords and MITs in offering Internet courses and developing a Web presence.
Perhaps not, and Sullivan, in the few comments shes made since her forced exit she resigned after being told the board unanimously wanted her out, when that may not have been the case admits shes incremental in her approach. Online learning is only one of many issues for UVa, which has seen state support dwindle to 5.6 percent of the total budget; state aid has fallen 22 percent since 2008. Sullivan would be right to worry about more than the Web.
In North Carolina, we certainly have campus controversies, plus an evolving system of governance in which Republicans now control the top spots on the UNC system Board of Governors. But we should aim to do much better than Virginia. The boards job, and that of the UNC-Chapel Hill trustees, is to help obtain sufficient financial support and to make wise, transparent personnel decisions to keep this one of the top public university systems in the country.