Her statement Thursday responded with a 10-point list of “difficult challenges” that, in her view, demand immediate action, rather than Sullivan’s “incremental” approach.
Among them, she said, were diminishing funding, the changing role of technology, rapid changes in health care, faculty workload and diminished student experience, the need for donations in sync with the university’s priorities and the need for more rigorous evaluation of the curriculum.
Dragas’s overarching critique, mentioned in most of the 10 points, is that Sullivan lacked an “articulated, long-range plan” to solve the university’s most vexing problems.
But Sullivan had delivered a 12-page strategic plan to the board. In it, she wrote that she had been “explicitly instructed not to do a strategic plan” because faculty were fatigued by a lack of follow-through from previous strategic plans, but that she was preparing one anyway.
Dragas said she and her supporters on the board were concerned that Sullivan lacked a long-range plan to find new revenue to supplant lost state subsidies.
The university is, however, one of the nation’s most successful public institutions in fundraising, with a current campaign approaching $3 billion, and its $5 billion endowment has recently outperformed those at Harvard and Yale.
Dragas said U-Va.’s student-faculty ratio is “deteriorating.” Institutional data show that ratio is the same as a decade ago, 16 to 1.
Dragas also indicated that U-Va.’s faculty compensation is not rising as fast as compensation at comparable schools. The Chronicle of Higher Education reported this year that full-professor pay at U-Va. has risen $40,400 since 2000, to $141,600 a year. By comparison, the Chronicle reported, the average salary for full professors at doctoral institutions has risen $36,400 over the past decade.
On Thursday, the American Association of University Professors issued a statement expressing “deep concern” over the ouster of Sullivan. And the deans of 10 colleges at U-Va. joined a growing chorus on campus calling for the board to reconsider its decision.
“It is clear after nearly two weeks of outrage, indignation, upset, threats of withdrawal of support and loyalty, that the people of the University of Virginia, and their ideas, which together comprise the University much more than buildings or landscapes, regard the decision as a mistake made in the absence of open discourse and courtesy,” they wrote.
McDonnell, who returned late Wednesday from a trade mission to Europe, remained quiet about the issue, though his office has been inundated with 2,000 e-mails and nearly 400 calls. A spokesman said his office was carefully considering the opinions.
Staff writers Jenna Johnson, Susan Svrluga and Laura Vozzella contributed to this report. Johnson reported from Charlottesville.