University of Virginia
I simply want to point out that the actions of the Board of Visitors have not only been unwise, but have not been accordance with their own governing documents.
The straw poll conducted by the Rector through one-on-one telephone conversations with members of the BoV to determine if there were the votes to call for the resignation of the President of the University was out of order if used (as it was) as a decisive expression of the will of the Board. All the Rector had the right to do was express her own opinion. Hearsay is not an approved method for a board to reach a decision. A call for resignation is simply a soft equivalent of dismissal from office. A decision to request a resignation in the name of the Board must be made through a process which allows simultaneous conversation and debate between all the members of a the BoV and be based on an actual vote. A polling of members by telephone has no validity; it is merely serial hearsay. Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised states: “The bylaws may authorize a board or committee (or even a relatively small assembly) to meet by videoconference or teleconference. If they do, then such a meeting must be conducted by a technology that allows all persons participating to hear each other at the same time (and, if a videoconference, to see each other as well). The opportunity for simultaneous communication is central to the deliberative character of the meeting. . . . (p. 482)” The BofV Manual specifies Robert’s as its parliamentary authority. Robert’s requires simultaneous communication for the good reason that it is only through the process of debate and the sharing of differing opinions that an informed decision can be reached.
Since the request for the resignation of the President was out of order, her resignation itself, since based on an improper action, should be disregarded and the BoV should take the formal step of apologizing to her and declaring that her resignation was not valid and that she is still the President of the University. If the BoV still wishes her removal from office, it should do so, as provided in the Manual, by a two-thirds majority of the full number of Visitors. That would be unwise, but at least it would be in order.
The Governor has for good reasons refrained from becoming publically involved in a personnel. However, I firmly believe that the BofV must be censured for the failure to follow the most basic principles of parliamentary law. Anarchy and serial hearsay are not good options for governing a University