Friday, June 22, 2012

Charting the Passing of an Age or Counter-Reformation?: The University of Virginia Saga Continues on of the Future of Board-Administration Relationships

The development of shared governance, and particularly its manifestation in the respective roles of board of trustees and senior university administrators, continues to play out, not at Penn State, but at the University of Virginia.  The stakes are fairly high--setting the template for board-administration relations, with both sides beginning to stake out their positions a little better.  "In her first extensive public statement since she was forced out of the University of Virginia presidency, Teresa A. Sullivan cast herself Monday as an "incrementalist" resistant to "corporate-style, top-down leadership."" Jack Stripling, Departing President Defends Her 'Incremental' Approach to Change at U. of Virginia, The Chronicle of Higher Education, June 18, 2012.

This post provides some additional perspectives, first from a person who wishes to remain anonymous, and then from a conversation among people interested in the consequences of these events.It also suggests the power of the old vision, as the movement toward reinstatement of the deposed president appears to gain some traction.

The departing president put the fundamental issues separating her from the board at issue.  "Ms. Sullivan broke her silence in a 14-page document, which amounted to a full-throated rejection of a rapid transformation of the institution that she said could be risky and destructive." Jack Stripling, Departing President Defends Her 'Incremental' Approach to Change at U. of Virginia, supra). The heart of the former President's defense put the spotlight on what she well describes as the traditional approach of university presidents--measured, collaborative, and legitimated through substantial internal stakeholder participation--against an emerging model that appears to be less collaborative, more hierarchical, and more willing to take risks. 
We are all aware that the UVA needs to change and for the past 2 years I have been working to do just that. Apparently, the area of disagreement appears to be just how that change should occur and at what pace. . . .
I have been described as an incrementalist. It is true. Sweeping action may be gratifying and may create the aura of strong leadership, but its unintended consequences may lead to costs that are too high to bear. There has been substantial change on Grounds in the past two years, and this change is laying the groundwork for greater change. But it has all been carefully planned and executed in collaboration with Vice Presidents and Deans and representatives of the faculty. This is the best, most constructive, most long lasting, and beneficial way to change a university. Until the last ten days, the change at UVA has not been disruptive change, and it has not been high-risk change.
Corporate-style, top-down leadership does not work in a great university. Sustained change with buy-in does work. UVA is one of the world's greatest universities. (Dr. Teresa Sullivan, Statement to the Board).

And the former President gently rebuked the board for managing their way into a clumsey termination:
I want to turn to the issue of trust. The community of trust is not merely a term to describe a Code that applies to our students. We equally need a community of trust between faculty and administration and among our leadership teams. Trust does not mean an absence of disagreement. But it requires that disagreements be frankly discussed. No matter how accomplished he or she may be, a president cannot read minds. When you choose a new president, tell him or her what you are thinking.
And the saga continues. (Dr. Teresa Sullivan, Statement to the Board).
Former President's Sullivan's position was strong. The Board Rector came under substantial criticism:

Helen E. Dragas, the rector of the board and a developer in the Norfolk-Virginia Beach area, has come under particular criticism for her reported role in secretly securing support for Ms. Sullivan's ouster. The clandestine nature of discussions about strategy for the institution, and who should lead it, has eroded the trust of alumni, including major donors, Mr. Casteen said.

"It has been uncommonly destructive, startling, sudden," he said. "It undercuts confidence in the university and the board."

Ms. Dragas, who has declined multiple interview requests from The Chronicle, conceded in a statement Monday that the board had invited criticism with its approach.

"We recognize that, while genuinely well-intended to protect the dignity of all parties, our actions too readily lent themselves to perceptions of being opaque and not in keeping with the honored traditions of this university," the statement read. "For that reason, let me state clearly and unequivocally: you—our UVa. family—deserved better from this board, and we have heard your concerns loud and clear."

Ms. Dragas also emphasized that the board had not demanded specific program cuts. "And, to set the record straight on an important point," she said, "the Board has never, nor will we ever, direct that particular programs or courses be eliminated or reduced. These matters belong to the faculty."

Yet Ms. Sullivan used her statement Monday to draw distinctions between a collaborative style of decision-making that she says best suits higher education and the recent board deliberations that culminated in her resignation. (From Jack Stripling, Departing President Defends Her 'Incremental' Approach to Change at U. of Virginia, supra).
Among the strongest critics was the University of Virginia Faculty Senate:

Statement of Faculty Senate Executive Council Concerning Meeting with Rector Dragas
June 18, 2012

This morning, the Faculty Senate Executive Council met with Rector Dragas to discuss the recent resignation of President Sullivan.  We invited the Vice Rector, but he did not attend. The purpose of the meeting was to allow the Council to ask questions raised by the University faculty concerning recent events, and to hear the Board’s perspective.

We asked the Rector about the process and the reasons behind President Sullivan’s resignation; the principles of shared governance between the faculty, administration and the Board; the Board’s desire for a strategic plan; and the Board’s justification for the speedy and secretive nature of its actions.
We had a cordial discussion. Based on extensive input from our faculty constituents and the Rector’s responses to our questions, we made the following requests:

1.     That the Board delay the naming of any interim president to provide an opportunity for shared governance;

2.     That President Sullivan be reinstated;

3.     That the Board recommend representation by UVA faculty on the Board as voting members; and

4.     That the Rector and Vice Rector resign in the best interests of the University. (The Daily Progress Staff Reports, June 18, 2012)

(Pix from Ted Strong, Casteen, Toscano call for Sullivan's reinstatement, The Daily Progress, June 22, 2012 ("University of Virginia Provost John Simon said, "The board actions over the next few days will inform me as to whether the University of Virginia remains the type of institution I am willing to dedicate my efforts to help lead.""))

However, the former President's position was not strong enough to undo her termination.  It did however, reveal from fractures on the Board of Visitors, and provided the University Faculty Senate with a small pafrt of its wish list.
Mark Kington resigned from his post as the Vice Rector of the Board of Visitors Tuesday afternoon, saying he hoped his departure could help bring about “a needed healing process at the university” following the Board’s abrupt ouster of President Teresa A. Sullivan on June 10.

His resignation came after an eventful Board meeting which began around 3 p.m. Monday and culminated with the 2:30 a.m. appointment of McIntire School of Commerce Dean Carl Zeithaml as the interim University president Tuesday.

Heywood Fralin, the sole Board member to vote against Zeithaml’s appointment, issued a statement Tuesday saying he was impressed by Zeithaml but would have reinstated Sullivan if offered the opportunity. Krista Pederson, Kington, Wulf resign following Board’s refusal to reappoint Sullivan, The Cavaliewr Daily, June 19, 2012.
 And the Rector had her defenders, including her sister:

Let me begin by saying that my sister has no knowledge that I am writing this and would insist that I not. Knowing how protective she is of her family, she would not want anyone, family or friends, to be subject to criticism on her behalf.

My sister has not shared with me any of the specific reasons why President Terry Sullivan was removed, but if you know Helen like I do, you would undeniably trust her judgment and forethought. She would not have removed an effective, efficient president for unnecessary cause. She and the board are privy to information that we in the public are not.

Helen has such a love of the University of Virginia and has spent endless hours educating herself about the workings of the university so that she could be part of taking and forcing the university to the next level. Knowing how thorough, detailed and patient Helen is, I know there is simply no way that she would have fired Terry Sullivan if she were an effective leader and visionary. Although President Sullivan is a delightful person to speak with, she clearly did not and does not have the ability to take such a fine, yet complicated, structure to higher ground.

Helen is often away from her young family and the businesses that she runs, spending her time and energy on the university simply out of love.

I ask that you take the time to understand where and why Terry Sullivan fell short and then make your judgment.

I also would like to send a message to those who were involved in hiring Terry Sullivan and are now upset over her firing. These so-called friends of the university who have injected fire into this whole process and made it look like a three-ring circus ought to be ashamed. Also, there is no excuse for their acceptance of mediocrity.

The University of Virginia will benefit from the board’s removal of a less than stellar president and will reap the benefits of having someone who can take our beloved university to the next level of higher education. My only regret is that Helen had to sacrifice her personal reputation. My sister is a kind, loving person who will come out of this ordeal stronger and wiser knowing that her heart was in the right place for wanting only the best from Thomas Jefferson’s fine institution. (Jennifer Dragas Stedfast, Rector had reasons to dismiss 'less than stellar president', The Daily Progress, June 19, 2012)
 (Pix from Zinie Chen Sampson, UVa board to consider reinstating president, WTOP, Local News, June 22, 2012 ("Carol Wood, left, associate vice president for public affairs at the University of Virginia, walks alongside UVA Rector Helen Dragas and Vice Rector Mark Kington to Madison Hall for a news conference after it was announced Sunday, June 10, 2012 that University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan would be stepping down. (AP Photo/The Daily Progress, Sabrina Schaeffer)". . . ."Dragas admitted the board could have handled the firing better, saying: "we did the right thing, the wrong way."))

All of this produced a conversation between Alpha, Beta and Delta that may provide some further insight:

Alpha: The Former President of UVa defends incrementalism as brimming with vision; and it is likely so. But where the cultural center shifts on the board--to whom all employees answer, then the defense is perhaps less relevant to the central issue--the relationship between CEO and board. You decide. 

Beta: This episode is the mirror image of a vote of confidence by faculty seeking to terminate the President, or a dean. Boards do not have the knowledge or the legitimacy to operate a university. Their job in personnel is to effectuate social understandings within the academy about appropriate leaders, which can mean yielding to a faculty judgment that a leader commands the respect necessary to lead, or that a leader is well accepted and a successful collaborator with the academic enterprise. Votes of no confidence are generically attacked as disruptive, when in fact they function to relieve untenable stresses. By contrast, unilateral, secretive action by a board to impose an inscrutable will is highly disruptive, as indicated by the chaos at U Va among faculty, students, and donors.

Alpha:  Yet that is how we have structured governance; it did not matter this past generation when the culture of governance expected a passive board and an active but cautious president. Now it seems we are moving away from that model, and in Virginia's case, in a most spectacular way. President's will have to change to conform to a new model and boards will have to bear the burdens they seem so easy to shoulder.

Delta:  That's right, Alpha -- look likes it would be a great time to find somebody to write a follow-up to the March & Olsen "Leadership and Ambiguity"(Harvard University Press, 1986) (Examines the American college presidency, discusses goals, budgets, policy decisions, and tenure, and recommends ways to improve university administration).

Beta: Alpha, how do we know when the culture has made a critical transition? Has it really made it when a board's attempt "to impose an inscrutable will" creates mayhem? There are pretenders on boards and at various advocacy groups, but is there reason to think that "we" have structured governance as they would wish? Those authoritarian impulses have always been present but have not become predominant. What is the factor that makes you think we are moving decisively away from the model of boards that limit their role to one of collaboration? BTW, firing the Penn St pres seemed to be within the function of a board. The right choice could be arguable but it was a decision that necessarily fell to the board.

Alpha:  @Delta--you are so right; maybe on my next sabbatical, but let's see how this year goes.; @ Beta--don't know for sure but my sense is that the factors are here (1) financial crisis affecting the ability of universities to maintain the status quo; (2) significant changes in the political culture from which boards are chosen; (3) a long term movement within for profit corporations to shift power from managers to boards of directors; (4) rise of expectations of more robust monitoring by boards; (5) trigger events (scandals (Penn State) or fear of status collapse (Va).

Beta:  Alpha, the driver for profit corporations to shift power to the board is shareholder value. With public universities, there is no force comparable to shareholder activists who achieve board membership. There are no shareholders demanding higher dividends or leveraged buyouts. There are some cultural trends, but there always are. So I'm not sure the ending is yet written to the long-standing push and pull between aggrandizing boards and university communities of scholars, students, etc. I don't count a trigger event like a scandal, because it's the board's job to relieve someone of duty where their continued service becomes widely understood to be subject to serious reservation.

Alpha: @Beta, of course I hope you are right but I am worried that this train has left the station (or the goat the barn, etc.). I was thinking along the lines you suggested after I wrote my response--no shareholders. But there are stakeholders. One of them is the faculty (but faculty power has been diminishing because like shareholders they have tended to delegate increasingly to administrators and the time left for service after teaching and research has been shrinking). But in public universities, both alumni and the state have been increasingly willing to step in. And now so has the managers of the wage labor markets. The real trick for more active boards will remain hard--it is one thing to make a dramatic gesture--like at UVa--it is quite another to manage a large enterprise with strong stakeholders. I am not sure they understand the enormity of the task.  And it is a harder task still to avoid the temptation to micro manage an enterprise, something boards ought not do either in the profit or non-profit sectors, that may trigger strong responses from powerful stakeholders, including faculty (academic freedom, students and alumni).

Beta: Alpha, we're getting close to agreement. In the past, boards that were out of control directly fired faculty members for speech. Their notion was, they are employees and it's our enterprise. They got stopped for the most part. Now some boards are trying to do some of the same sort of thing, by reducing resources for academic programs they don't see the point of, in that all those programs do is create literacy and capacity for critical thought, and by turning the universities over to their kind of bottom-line non intellect. They can cause problems and do damage, but I doubt they can do what they want without throwing out the bath water and still drowning the baby anyway. (Not much of a metaphor, but it does communicate futility.) BTW, I was just reading Abraham on Supreme Court history. Pierce Butler, appointed by Harding, had been "a meddlesome member of the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota." He "was personally responsible for the cashiering of a chemistry professor, the non renewal of the contracts of a chemistry instructor and rhetoric instructor, and the harassing of a senior economics professor." So it's a continuing task for fend off misuse of Board "authority." I have wanted to say we are seeing the 1% trying to take over everything, and run it top down. I haven't wanted to say that, but this essay by UVa Prof Siva Vaidhyanathan (Strategic Mumblespeak: Er, UVA’s Teresa Sullivan was fired for what?, Slate, June 15, 2012)
gives me an opening. The professor, like me, thinks it's not necessarily, saying: "They [MK: rich donors] buy influence and we subsidize their purchases [MK: they're tax deductible]. So too often an institution that is supposed to set its priorities based on the needs of a state or the needs of the planet instead alters its profile and curriculum to reflect the whims of the wealthy. Fortunately this does not happen often..." This could be seen as funny. "Emails obtained by The Cavalier Daily from May and June sent between Rector Helen Dragas and Kington revealed the two had drafted a press release as early as June 2 announcing Sullivan’s resignation, and often sent each other articles and op-eds which promoted rapid innovation in higher educational policies. The emails also included messages from University alumni offering their input and opinions to the rector and vice rector, often pertaining to the topic of online education." To their credit, it was Stanford that they were jealous of. But still... Sending each other clippings and opinion pieces along the lines of, "Have you seen this?!"

Alpha:  and we will likely see more of this as the weeks go on. I am really curious to see if this experiment will work. And of course foremost on my mind is whether boards will remember the difference between their role in setting policy and direction (and monitoring their agents) and management who are responsible for the operationalization of broad board direction. The tell tale signs of failure will be the inability of a board to control itself and begin to micro manage rather than set the broad direction and goals of the institution.

Beta:  I am not sure of how far to go in the idea of a board's setting the broad direction and goals. That makes some sense for private institutions, but even those boards are trustees of a complex system of collaborations over a long period of time. The accumulated capital associated with all that is a common social property. The term board of trustees nicely captures a role that is not necessarily about vision, but about preservation. The reasons leaders are generally chosen by a process of wide consultation aimed to achieve consensus is because the ownership of the university is collective, belonging to those who helped create it over time and to the future generations for whom this collective, intricately evolved asset must be conserved. I am sure a board would think it could make a better human being, but so far, they have no means of demanding a fresh start after reading some Op Eds on bionic humans.
 (Pix UVa faculty seek reinstatement of president: University of Virginia asks rector, vice rector to resign after president's ouster, Boradcast Newsroom, June 18, 2012 ("University of Virginia faculty leaders on Monday demanded the reinstatement of the school's president and the resignation of two board members involved in her ouster. Officials gave no sign of complying, but acknowledged they could have handled Teresa Sullivan's abrupt departure better."). 

And lastly, a look from another, less optimistic and more raw,  perspective:

With Mark Klington’s resignation last night, and Dragas’subsequent statement indicating that Dragas plans to remain in her capacity as rector despite coming under withering criticism from all stakeholders associated with the University: Parents, Alumni, Students, Donors, and Faculty, the only reasonable inference I can draw from two things: 1) McDonnell’s stated “refusal to micromanage”, and 2) Dragas’ conduct, is that Dragas is acting as the Governor’s agent in Charlottesville and acting with his full support. Dragas is not managing her own company, but she is acting as if she is.

A somewhat analagous event to the current turmoil at Virginia occured in State College, PA in November, when the Penn State University Board unilaterally terminated Head Football Coach Joe Paterno and President Graham Spanier, absent consultation with relevant stakeholders. The actions of the Penn State Board against Joe Paterno, which were taken absent communication with the faculty or other institutional stakeholders and with the full backing of the Governor of Pennsylvania, were nonetheless far more acceptable within a traditional public university governance framework because the child abuse scandal, to use Dragas’ own words, truly did constitute an “existentialthreat” to the University. Where I see a clear distinction is the fact that so objectionable is that Dragas has yet – despite clear demands from all stakeholders of a public university – to articulate any clear justification for the actions of the board against Sullivan. Dragas has presented no evidence that Sullivan was negligent in her duties, shown no evidence that Sullivan defiedthe board’s stated objectives, and shown no evidence that Sullivan’s strategic plans for Virginia were either unreasonable or ineffective. Dragas herself cites the “new economic climate”as a cause for radically altering the direction of the University, but conveniently forgets to mention that despite said “economic climate,” University fundraising under Sullivan’s watch increased markedly from2010-2012. Further, Dragas and the board have named an interim President without consultation with any stakeholders of the University, in marked contrast to the process that led to the appointment of President Sullivan.

Perhaps what concerns me the most about Dragas’ actions is the role played by Peter Kiernan. Kiernan, who recently resigned as chairman of the board of trustees of the Darden School and also resigned from a pending appointment to the University board, is an independent hedge fund manager in Connecticut. Kiernan’s memorandum to the board ten days ago made several disconcerting assertions: 1) UVA must move toward self sufficiency, as the Darden school had already done; 2) Darden credentials should of their own weight mitigate any concerns held by University stakeholders about the conduct of Dragas, Klington, and Kiernan; and 3) the University must abandon strategic planning and embrace “strategic dynamism,”which my own brief research informs me is a broad label applied by “corporate strategists” to the process of constantly revising goals, policies, and resource allocation based on performance metrics. Strategic dynamism advocates urge the use of technology to constantly monitor and produce data on external and internal inputs, and the use of the resulting data by internal leadership to produce more dynamic, flexible goals that accurately reflect the environment in which the organization functions. The ultimate irony, of course, is that Dragas has criticized Sullivan, implicitly, for an “incremental” approach. However, strategic dynamism itself is inherently incremental; goals and policies are constantly revised in light of feedback drawn from various data points, produced by technology designed to monitor external and internal inputs.

Now, one might reasonably ask why the use of such an approach concerns me. Here’s why:

1) public universities are not analogous to private companies or publicly held companies, which enjoy far more flexibility in contracting, employee oversight, budgeting, resource allocation, and setting prices for their product

2) public universities, unlike the corporate form, are responsible to multiple institutional and external stakeholders, not merely to shareholders – and thus must adopt a long term planning approach flexible enough to account for state construction and funding priorities, economic realities, and policy shifts, but driven nonetheless by consistency, adherence to the mission of the University and a commitment to minimize the impact of external factors on the quality of education offered by the institution.

3) public universities are not even analogous to private universities, where executive control over inputs like tuition, payroll, benefits, construction projects, and development are all far less constrained by state law;

4) the inputs monitored in a strategically dynamic environment are selected by a small group of executives, and much of the research about the relationship between technological monitoring and business decisions that has emerged in recent years strongly suggests that organizations that use such an approach will inevitably rely on data produced by technology to the exclusion of all other sources of information, including personal experience, legal counsel, and stakeholder feedback. Indeed, the “strategic dynamism” that Kiernan discusses was employed by rating agencies and investment banks from 2000-2008 (and after) – and much recent scholarship strongly suggests that executives relying on such data made decisions with severe long term costs, largely because the selection of data points led to the exclusion of other possible sources of data, and created a more narrow, short term lens through which executives viewed the performance of the company. Indeed, real time data often presents an inaccurate picture of the long term health and sustainability of an institution.

5) The Darden school’s “self sufficiency” was largely made possible through two things: 1) a once-in-a-generation gift from a major donor, and 2) the increased availabilityof federal student loans for graduate students, which permits graduate students to borrow from the federal government the full cost of attendance for graduate programs. As a result, most Darden students are able to borrow the $50,000 plus cost of tuition, plus additional funds for living expenses.

6) two of the factors cited by Dragas are 1) online education and 2) health care. First, Dragas as an executive should be aware that health care, until the Supreme Court rules on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, is a completely unresolvable issue. Until the Supreme Court reaches a decision, no health care organizations are making major strategic changes - while organizations are preparing to implement PPACA, while also preparing for the possibility provisions will be severed or the entire statute rejected as unconstitutional - few if any organizations in health care are currently making major strategic policy changes absent planned construction projects and other privately funded initiatives. Second, Dragas has provided no transparency about why she mentioned online education.

All in all, this has been a dreadful month for the University of Virginia. Dragas' conduct has given validity to the worst stereotypes of the University of Virginia, and her conduct, in connection with the notable silence from Governor McDonnell (and supported by Lieutenant Governor Bolling) reeks of classic good ole boy backstabbing, with a twenty-first century touch.

(From Kevin Kiley,  Going Another Round?: UVa board poised to reappoint ousted president, but not without objection,  Inside Higher Educaiton, June 22, 2012 ("In some sense, the board’s vote on Tuesday will be a referendum on the speed of the changes the university will undergo over the next few years. That decision, given U.Va.'s prominence among research universities, particularly public flagships, could reverberate through the sector.").

Yet, the status quo will not pass quietly.   There is a possibility that the forces of tradition remain both vibrant and strong enough to counter this effort by the board to wrest power from university administrators.  Bowing to pressure, the Board may be reconsidering its termination of President Sullivan.  University of Virginia board to meet to consider reinstating president; rector defends ouster, The Washington Post, June 21, 2012:
The University of Virginia’s governing board will consider reinstating President Teresa Sullivan at a meeting next week, even as the leader of the embattled board defended the unpopular ouster that threw the flagship university into turmoil. The board has announced plans to vote Tuesday on whether to retain Sullivan, the first female president of the prestigious public university. . . .  Ten of the university’s 11 school deans, as well as the Faculty Senate, have demanded Sullivan’s reinstatement amid wide condemnations of the board’s abrupt firing of the popular Sullivan. . . . Those opposed to Sullivan’s removal likened the ouster to a coup d’etat that went against the stately Charlottesville university’s longstanding principles of honor, respect and transparency. . . . For her part, Rector Helen Dragas publicly disclosed Thursday more detailed reasoning behind Sullivan’s ouster. A six-page statement said Sullivan wasn’t acting quickly enough to address financial pressures facing higher education, the role of online learning, changes in the health care environment, the increased student-faculty ratio, fundraising, and other strategic challenges. The university lacks long-range plans on several of those fronts, it added.
The stage is set.   And the last piece was put in place with the annoucement by the interim president to halt negotiations until the issue of reinstatement is decided.  Here is the message sentby Carl Zeithami regarding the status of his interim presidency:

Dear University colleagues:

I am grateful for the trust that members of the University's Board of Visitors expressed in asking me to serve as interim president during this extraordinarily difficult time in the life of our University. I made the decision to accept this transition role because of my love for U.Va., as well as my desire to help in a time of crisis.

In the three days since I accepted this position, I have talked to many in our community about what transpired on Grounds while I was out of the country on University business, and I received a great deal of input from numerous colleagues, including members of the faculty. I deeply appreciate and respect this input.

Clearly, we agree that the University and its reputation have been damaged these past 13 days, but that together we can mend the harm done and move our great University forward. Trust, one of our core institutional values, has been compromised.

There is an enormous groundswell of support for Terry Sullivan's reinstatement as our president, and I understand that the Board will meet next week to consider this possibility. As a result, I am suspending any further negotiations with the Board regarding my status as interim president, as well as any activities associated with this role. In the meantime, I will return my focus to the McIntire School.

Trust cannot be restored in our community until the President Sullivan's status is clarified and ultimately resolved.

With kind regards,
Carl Zeithaml
Dean of the McIntire School of Commerce

(Pix from Carl Zeithaml to 'suspend' UVA interim presidency negotiations, ABC Channel 7 News, June 22, 2012 ("Carl Zeithaml, who was earlier named the interim president of the University of Virginia, wrote a letter to university faculty saying that he is “suspending” any negotiations with the Board regarding his takeover of the role."))

Whatever the outcome, though, the parties have now made it impossible to go back to the status quo.  Even iof the board prevails, it will be hobbled by resistance of significant university stakeholders.  It will have to proceed cautiously (an ideological win for the forces supporting the terminated president) and may be judged harshly for failure.  On the other hand, if President Sullivan is reinstated, she will have to show a substantial change in her incrementalism (am ideological win for the forces supporting the Rector).  Incrementalism that appears to change little will be interpreted as as cronyism by her opponents and hobble the rest of her presidency.  Either way, then, there will be change, and perhaps fundamental change in the governance of the University of Virginia. 

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