A University of Virginia media-studies professor writes in the online magazine Slate that the controversial firing of the school’s president shows the downside of U.S. colleges’ “addiction to philanthropy.”
Siva Vaidhyanathan cites a leaked e-mail from Peter Kiernan, a hedge-fund billionaire and Virginia board member, taking credit for the ouster of Theresa Sullivan, which has sparked a campus outcry and prompted some donors to threaten to withhold gifts.
Citing Mr. Kiernan’s repeated use of the corporate-management term “strategic dynamism” in connection with Ms. Sullivan’s firing, Mr. Vaidhyanathan links the incident to a belief on the part of some rich donors “that universities should be run like businesses.”
“The reason folks such as [university board chair Helen] Dragas and Kiernan get to call the shots at major universities is that they write huge, tax-deductible checks to them,” Mr. Vaidhyanathan writes. “So too often an institution that is supposed to set its priorities based on the needs of a state or the needs of the planet instead alters its profile and curriculum to reflect the whims of the wealthy.”