One of my colleagues brought to my attention Siva Vaidhyanathan's excellent commentary published to the Chronicle of Higher Education: What We Learned at UVa, Chronicle of Higher Education, June 27, 2012. The assessment is well worth considering in its entirety. It captures well an awakening to the realities of great changes now roiling around the university.
(From New U.Va. head delays transition until Sullivan's fate settled, June 21, 2012)
His assessment of the long term results of the ouster and reinstatement of President Sullivan may be contested. He correctly posits that the Sullivan affair was about "who gets to guide the future of a great research university." (Ibid.). But in his defense of the old order he misunderstands the forces that are moving us away from the old model--even at great research universities--reducing them to "a small cabal of market- and techno-fundamentalists [who present] as a clear danger to not only the traditions of their alma mater but to the very value of the degrees they have earned" (Ibid.). But see this blog: Charting the Passing of an Age or Counter-Reformation?: The University of Virginia Saga Continues on of the Future of Board-Administration Relationships, June 22, 2012).
On the other hand, his comments on the role of the Virgina Faculty Senate are valuable and worth serious consideration. They suggest, to some extent, a reminder of the simple insight that the quality quality and commitment of representation on a Senate may translate into the quality and influence of the Senate as an institution. At the same time, to the extent it suggests management of faculty representation on the Senate by administrators, it raises issues as troubling as those about the division of authority between president and board of trustees.