George Cohen Addresses BOV: Transcript and Video

On September 13, 2012, Professor George Cohen addressed the BOV in his capacity as Chair of the Faculty Senate.

Response by the BOV:

MR. LONG: Thank you very much Mr. Cohen. Appreciate your insight and commitment –
MR. GOODWIN: Can we discuss this?
MS. KILBERG: Yes, please.
MR. GOODWIN: Can we discuss his remarks?
MR. LONG: Sure.
MR. GOODWIN: I’d like to discuss it. And I’m not on the board. I’m an advisor. And I wasn’t on the board previously. But I draw this analogy. And I sit here and I thought you were very eloquent. And I really do hope you’ll have more meetings with Steve because I happen to know him at my church. He’s a very Christian man. You might bring along Gary, our pastor, and you might find a way to heal yourself.
But I would say to you as bluntly as I could, is we need to leave the past alone. You’re trying to dig up things and you’re trying to get answers that, in my opinion, you won’t get. And the more you dig, the more you make the university look bad.
And we have enjoyed some really great rankings here in the last few weeks. If we keep at it, and I will suggest you are doing a lot of it, I think you won’t see those kind of rankings.
I draw a real simple analogy because I always just like to keep things simple. And pardon me, I might get emotional. But I’ve been married for 46 years. God knows, my wife and I have had some bad times. But you know, if every time we had a little bit of an argument and we had to beat that mother to death, we probably wouldn’t have been married for 45 years or 46 years.
So I suggest to you it’s time to move on. Whatever happened, and I do not know because I was not there, it happened probably because people were trying to do the best they knew how at the time. It might not have been the right thing, but they were trying.
President Sullivan is now with us. She’s a good lady. She’s trying her darndest to be a good president. I can assure you this board is trying to do a good job. And I would ask you to forget it and move on. Thank you.
MR. LONG: Mr. Goodwin, thank you very much for your insight.
Ms. Kilberg?
MS. KILBERG: I’d like to second what Mr. Goodwin said. I am one of the four new board members. I do not know what happened and, frankly, I just want to move ahead for the best future of this university. I think we gain absolutely nothing by rehashing this, especially rehashing it in the press, which seems to be continuing to happen despite the fact that we all agreed at our retreat that we would not be talking to the press.
My late father used to say that if you walked around contemplating your navel constantly, you’re going to hit a brick wall and you are never going to see the door that’s standing right in front of you that could be opened. I don’t think we benefit the university. I don’t think we benefit the faculty, the staff, the board or the students by continuing with this. And it is time to stop.
And, Terry, I would hope — I know I was invited, I’m sure everyone else was, to your regional meetings you’re having with the alumnae. Just one little story. My daughter who graduated, undergraduate in 2002, saw that and she said, “Mom, I’m not going to go to that,” and I said, “Why not?” She said, “Well, all it’s going to be is a rehash of everything that happened.”
And I said, “Karen, will you please go read that email again?” And she did. I said, “It doesn’t say that. It says what’s the future of the university.” She says, “You know, you’re right, that’s what it says. But that doesn’t matter because what’s going to happen, unless at the beginning of those meetings, you say, you say as president, We are going to discuss the future, we are not going to take or entertain questions relating to the past,” she said “Unless that happens, every one of my friends who goes there, that’s all they’re going to want to discuss.”
So I think it’s incumbent upon each and every one of us, including the press and including the board and including the faculty, to let this go and move forward.
MR. LONG: Thank you, Ms. Kilberg.
Are there any other comments from members of the board?
Mr. Robertson?
MR. ROBERTSON: I appreciate where you’re coming from. I do think you need to give the new committee on governance a little bit of time because that’s really where a lot of those questions will be dealt with. And you’re looking for some concrete steps going forward; how are we not going to do this again in four years regarding what happened in the past.
And I believe that committee is — I know that committee because I’m on it — is definitely dealing with those issues. And we want to make some very concrete proposals as we go forward. Part of the problem is the sheer weight of time and our inability to meet but so much. But I do think that you’ll be, should be satisfied with the results of where we’re going.
MR. LONG: Any other comments? Any suggestions? I told you my committee meeting was going to be a little bit different.

(Laughter)

MS. KILBERG: I may have to join your church. And I’m Jewish, it’s a real problem.
MR. LONG: Madam President?
MS. SULLIVAN: It is true that I have been on a speaking tour because I think it’s important to reestablish relationships with alumni who may have wondered what was going on. But since all of those are basically live streamed or archived on line, you can see what I’ve said, including yesterday at the Miller Center.
And my remarks have been forward looking. I don’t think it’s helpful for us to look back. It’s much more important for me to hear the alumni, to have the alumni hear from me that we need to raise faculty salaries, that we need to think about how we reinvent the 21st Century curriculum so that our graduates can get a job in the places where our alumni are hiring, and also so that we can think about where we can move with new research directions.
So that’s been the text of what I’ve said. I can’t control what people want to ask me about, but that’s the text of what I’ve been saying.
MS. KILBERG: We could, Terry, just say we’re not entertaining those questions, I want to talk about the future.
MR. LONG: Any other comments?
Speaking of the future, again, I submit to you, (inaudible) best university community, we’ve got a lot of good things. Let’s keep going with dialogue. Let’s keep going with direction for the university. And I appreciate the candid comments and in terms of the bravery of some folks speaking out on various sides of this issue today.
I think in order for the university to continue moving ahead in an excellent fashion as we have, it’s important for us to look at what we do. And education is why we’re here. At the end of the day, it’s all about the student. And we can talk about money. We can talk about beauty. We can talk about philosophy. But at the end of the day, it’s all about the student.

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6 responses to “George Cohen Addresses BOV: Transcript and Video

  1. I’ve read and watched this numerous times and it never fails to amaze, astonish, and appall me. Watching the video, I feel like I am at the board meeting of a small local church, country club, or park district — not at a BOV meeting for a major public university with worldwide media recognition. Can anyone imagine this kind of discussion at any of UVA’s “peer” universities, public or private?

    • I had the same feeling, Chris, and it creeped me out. They might has well have said “This is our thing, go away.” Mr Goodwin’s suggestions about involving his pastor to help Mr Cohen “heal yourself” malign simple Christian faith and doctrine: “If you remember your brother has something against you, first be reconciled…” Matthew 5:23 It doesn’t ever say “Cover up. Move on.” Scary on many levels.

  2. And our governor appointed most of these folks…..does not say much for his judgment or the overall impression the BOV presents by NOT discussing the matter. I am disappointed in them. Good job Terry for trying to look forward and keep things positive–but when you get a straight question, please try to give a straight answer–that is what the alumni and students would expect of their president (and, ideally, the BOV).

  3. Pingback: gal7vr.09/25/12.Another rally on Friday | DocUVA Greg Lewis·

  4. One of the most astonishing, frightening things to yet become public. “Hush, Mr Cohen. We don’t want to ‘rehash’ the past”. Whatever happened to “For here we are not afraid to tolerate any error, so long as TRUTH is left free to combat it.”? Isn’t that carved in stone on the Archway down by the Corner? Aren’t those Mr Jefferson’s own words? Isn’t TJ the guy that started all of this that we love so? Who do these people think they are?

  5. Pingback: Editorial: Transparency Now! Rally 9/28 5:30pm | TJ's UVA·

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