In Higher Education, Shared Governance Prevails

Ann McClure's picture
Tuesday, August 14, 2012

When Alan Merten became president of George Mason University 16 years ago, his counterparts in the corporate world would sometimes quip, "I could do what you do."

By the time he retired at the end of June, Merten was hearing a different refrain. "You know what they say now? 'Boy, I couldn't do what you do,' " he said.

Any lingering doubts about the complexities of overseeing a major university were likely dispelled by the recent unpleasantness in Charlottesville, as some are calling this summer's leadership crisis at the University of Virginia.

If there are parallels in that Southern euphemism for the Civil War to the turmoil at U.Va., it could be in the miscalculation by the board of visitors of the intense battle it would face in trying to remove the president.

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