WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) -- George Washington University President Emeritus Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, one of the country's most respected former university leaders, is calling on the Board of Visitors at UVA to resign over the still mysterious forced resignation of President Teresa Sullivan.
Trachtenberg is just out with an article in the the prestigious Chronicle of Higher Education that says UVA's leaders acted capriciously and inappropriately when they pushed out Sullivan after just two years. "What's clear is the process they used to affect their will was totally irregular and inappropriate. I've never heard of a Board holding a secret meeting where three members, a cabal essentially, get together and decide they're going to replace the president."
Trachtenberg was a university president for 30 years -- he spent almost 20 years at the helm of GW. He's a friend of Presidents and spiritual leaders, the author of numerous books on higher ed, and the man who built GW into one of the largest landowners in downtown DC. Which makes him perhaps uniquely qualified to weigh in on Teresa Sullivan's controversial ouster.
"No transparency, no bill of particulars, no complaints they're willing to publish... It's quite absurd and injures Mr Jefferson's university. They really frankly ought to step down.... If not the board than everyone who participated in President Sullivan's dismissal."
Trachtenberg says Sullivan is well regarded and celebrated in the small community of presidents at world renowned universities.
Universities are under intense pressure to change to deal with technology and harsh economic times. But Trachtenberg says Sullivan had a vision for UVA. "It takes three minutes to make a three minute egg. If you say to Sullivan,
'I want a three minute egg,' you've got to give her three minutes."
But Trachtenberg says UVA will weather this crisis. "When people talk about blunders in university governance, it will be part of the narrative. But UVA is much too strong to be brought down by this sort of mistake."
Trachtenberg says Boards are clearly supposed to hold university presidents accountable. But he says they have to do it in a sound, responsible way. And he says this wasn't.
Written and Reported by Bruce Leshan
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