University of Virginia

The Removal and Reinstatement of UVA’s President

The AAUP has published the report of its investigation into the University of Virginia governing board’s attempt last June to remove Teresa Sullivan from the university presidency. The report documents a major breakdown in governance at UVA, focusing on the role of the board of visitors and its rector, Helen Dragas, who initiated the effort to force the president’s resignation.

Academic Leadership 2.0

In a commentary accompanying the Chronicle of Higher Education’s report on how the University of Virginia’s board of visitors abruptly forced the resignation of UVA’s president, Teresa Sullivan—and then just as abruptly reinstated her—William W.

University of Virginia Governance Investigation Update

The Committee on College and University Governance, in a statement presented to the Ninety-ninth Annual Meeting, condemned the deplorable actions of the University of Virginia Board of Visitors under its outgoing rector. The committee sees reason to hope that principles of shared academic governance will prevail under the board’s incoming rector.

Report of the Committee on College and University Governance, 2012–13

The Committee on College and University Governance has been active in three areas this past year: a governance investigation at the University of Virginia, the publication of three policy statements, and the holding of a governance conference last fall.

Cuccinelli v. Rector & Visitors of the University of Virginia, 283 Va. 420 (2010)

In a 2012 decision the Virginia Supreme Court rejected attempts by then Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to compel disclosure of university research records.  Cuccinelli who publicly opposes the theory of global warming, used his position to formally request emails and other documents relating to former faculty member and climatologist Michael Mann from the University of Virginia (UVA) arguing that he had authority to subpoena these records pursuant to the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act (FATA).  The Supreme Court of Virginia held that state universities, as agencies of the Commonwealth, do not constitute a “person” under the FATA and therefore Cuccinelli had no authority to require release of the records and his appeal was rendered moot. (In another related case, the Virginia Supreme Court rejected a request for these records under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.)

The American Tradition Institute v. Rector & Visitors of the University of Virginia & Michael Mann, 287 Va. 330 (Va. April 17, 2014)

In this case the Virginia Supreme Court unanimously ruled that a professor’s climate research records were exempt from disclosure as academic research records, as AAUP argued in an amicus brief submitted to the Court.  The Court explained that the exclusion of University research records from disclosure was intended to prevent “harm to university-wide research efforts, damage to faculty recruitment and retention, undermining of faculty expectations of privacy and confidentiality, and impairment of free thought and expression.” While the decision was limited to a Virginia statute, it provided a strong rationale for the defense of academic records from disclosure.

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