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Campus Overload
Posted at 04:25 PM ET, 08/09/2012

University of Virginia leader Helen Dragas questioned Lady Gaga class


In the last two months, the University of Virginia has released scores of e-mails that were exchanged between top leaders in the months leading up to the failed ouster of President Teresa Sullivan in June. These e-mails, which are public records, were requested by reporters who are searching for clues as to what exactly happened and why.


U-Va. offered an English class called “GaGa for Gaga: Sex, Gender, and Identity,” which focuses on the pop icon Lady Gaga, shown above at a 2011 performance. (AP Photo/Joel Ryan, File) (Joel Ryan - AP)
That means I have spent a chunk of my summer reading these documents — which have, unexpectedly, provided an illuminating tour of the inner workings of a major university and the higher education topics that its leaders care about most.

One of my favorite examples comes from a batch of e-mails that were released in late July at the request of C-Ville, a weekly magazine in Charlottesville:

On Dec. 9, governing board leader Helen E. Dragas sent an e-mail to Sullivan and Provost John Simon with the subject line: “tough headline.” All that was in the message was a link to a blog post by The Heritage Foundation headlined, “The Lady Gaga-fication of Higher Ed.” (The piece questioned why four top-tier universities — “Four!” — offered courses revolving around pop icon Lady Gaga. U-Va. was singled out.)

I found the resulting back-and-forth on the topic fascinating. You can read the full exchange in documents posted after the jump.

(The most recent e-mail is on top, so I recommend starting at the bottom and working your way back.)

One note for those not familiar with Charlottesville: Simon mentions in his e-mail that Lady Gaga had recently performed at “JPJ.” He is referring to John Paul Jones Arena at U-Va. (To read more about JPJ’s son, Paul Tudor Jones II, check out this article: “A donor in the crisis.”)

For more higher education news, you can follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

By  |  04:25 PM ET, 08/09/2012

 
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