CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA – An article published in the Virginian-Pilot provides frightening insight into the current state of Mr. Jefferson’s university and Mr. Batten’s newspaper. Readers are told that giving to the University of Virginia doubled after the Board of Visitors reinstated president Teresa A. Sullivan. Bob Sweeney, the university’s senior vice president for development and public affairs, wants us to believe that the four days between Sullivan’s reinstatement and the end of June was an adequate sample size to imply Sullivan coming back is the impetus for increased giving compared to the previous 16 days (between Sullivan’s forced ouster and her reinstatement). How is that for poor scholarship? Did Sweeney ever take an introductory statistics course?
As for the Virginian-Pilot, and the AP, they should know better. In fact, it appears that they did; but published the article anyway. Here is the closing paragraph:
It’s unclear how long the temporary boost following Sullivan’s reinstatement will last. Fundraising totals for July are not available yet and Sweeney said July and August are typically slow months.
How’s that for hedging one’s bets? If giving in July and August are down, it’s because they are “slow months”. If giving is up, I’m sure that Sullivan’s minions will giver her all of the credit.
We have no opinion as to Ms. Sullivan’s performance. We also have to be careful in assessing the actions of Rector Helen Dragas and cheerleaders such as Paul Tudor Jones (our opinion of both is decidedly negative). Yet, Dragas and alumni such as Jones made compelling arguments for Sullivan’s dismissal. Now Sullivan is clearly put her PR machine into action. Regardless of her future performance, Sullivan is all but untouchable.
There is only one clear winner in this ongoing debacle – Sullivan. Virginia governor Bob McDonnell played the fool by intervening in this matter and then re-appointing Dragas immediately after Sullivan’s reinstatement. Dragas and the visitors who forced Sullivan to resign showed that they cared more about a prestigious appointment than the university they claimed to love. We only hope that the current and future students of UVA don’t suffer because of the ego and folly of a few.