You don't have to do this. At your special meeting Monday at 3, you don't have to ratify the corrupt decision by a cabal of three of your members—plus martyred Kiernan and unnamed shadowy advisers—to remove President Sullivan from Mr. Jefferson's great university. Jefferson—we like to talk about him a lot, don't we?—believed in democratic ideals; he founded the University to embody them. He was resolutely and authoritatively against tyranny. But what happened last weekend was tyrannical: a secret conspiracy by an ultra-small but powerful minority to defy the wishes of a very large majority—that is, the UVA community.
The backlash that's grown daily since last weekend's coup profoundly illustrates two facts that you, board members, must consider before voting on President Sullivan's forced "resignation": 1) the University community supports President Sullivan and opposes the secretive process used to depose her. 2) The cabal's actions have substantially injured the University both internally and externally. If President Sullivan was acting too slowly to improve UVA, as the cabal's leader—you know her as rector—has suggested, then the cabal acted swiftly to wreck the University. The negative effects can be seen everywhere: the Faculty Senate executive council's no-confidence vote; the instantaneous feedback to the specially created Alumni Association comment site that "overwhelmed [the] servers" in less than 30 minutes; the newspaper editorials; the criticism from the head of the Association of American Universities, a group of 61 top universities to which the University belongs—but perhaps not for long, if the cabal gets its way.
Furthermore, by all accounts, President Sullivan was leading the University in fine form—indeed, as her May strategy memo shows, she was closely engaged with both strategic and tactical issues that had been left to fester under previous administrative and board leadership. In response to this and much other evidence of President Sullivan's sound stewardship, the cabal has offered nothing. Before you vote on Monday, you might ask the cabal if they have a reason for dismissing President Sullivan. It appears that they lack one. Instead, they seem to just want change for the sake of change—hardly a rational basis for such a deleterious upheaval, wouldn't you agree? In contrast to President Sullivan, the cabal has betrayed its poor stewardship of the University.
The cabal's leader quoted Jefferson in her announcement of the coup last Sunday: "The great object of our aim from the beginning has been to make this Establishment the most eminent in the United States." With your vote tomorrow, board members, you have the great privilege of keeping the University of Virginia on its upward track by rejecting President Sullivan's forced resignation. She may not want to continue her tenure, given all that's happened. (If she didn't continue, it would be understandable but sad, especially since it needn't have come to this.)
But whether she stays or goes, you would, in rejecting her resignation, show the state, and the country, that UVA can't be bullied by a self-interested tyrannical cabal that sows discord instead of progress. To operate at their best, public universities need transparent, rational governing boards. Please show that you belong to such a board by rejecting President Sullivan's resignation and standing up for Jefferson's own ideals.
Related: UVA, Sullivan, & the Renegade Board
Related: UVA, Sullivan, & Online Education