An unapologetic plant geek shares advice and opinions on gardening, the contrived and the natural landscape, as well as occasional topics from the other side of the gate.

June 27, 2012

Conflict and Resolution in the Academic Village

The big news in Virginia the past few weeks has come from Charlottesville on the normally stable campus at the University of Virginia.  The president, Teresa Sullivan, was forced to resign without clear cause after only two years at her post, a superlatively short term. Leading the effort to oust her was head of the Board of Visitors, Helen Dragas, Virgina Beach real estate developer and UVA alumna.  I don't pretend to know what the entire issue entails, but I believe it to boil down to two differing visions for the university.  After a chaotic couple of weeks, and an outcry of support for Sullivan, she was reinstated on Tuesday, with pledges of unity from both sides.

I often play a game of what-if while I daydream.  What if  Mr. Jefferson (it's never Geo. Washington, always Jefferson) was to magically visit the 21st century for an hour or two, and it was my job to chauffer him around answering questions as best I could. First of all he would probably be frightened to death at the speed we travel, he might even get carsick.  With all the suburban sprawl and urbanization, I am sure his vision of the United States as an agriculturally based society would be out the window. I think he would also likely find the changes in race and class very uncomfortable.  And what would he think about the recent news from his university - I am sure his first reaction would be "women, why are there women here?".

(Here is a link to Bloomberg for a more complete story,)


  1. I think he would be pleased with the present. His grand experiment succeeded and is thriving after 200 years, and is a model and inspiration for others. His (and others) ultra-radical, liberal thinking was successful.

  2. where would he stand on climate change?
    - Georgia
    p.s. gorgeous photo!

  3. Good question. He was one of the original polymaths, so I think he might react differently to all sorts of things. As a horticulturist, I suspect he would be delighted to see the advanced state of knowledge, interest and ability. As an Architect, not sure what he would have of modernism-though I feel certain he would be displeased with post-modernism. As an inventor/tinkerer, he would certainly be enthusiastic about riding around in a car, and as a politician, my guess is that he would be horrified at the nearly complete rule that economic influence currently plays as well as the on-going decline of rural America.

  4. I liked listening Clay Jenkins on PBS radio acting as Mr. Jefferson. I agree that he would be shocked to see women at his university.

  5. Amazing. I cannot tell you how often I have imagined myself riding around in a car with Mr. Jefferson engaging in exactly the same activities. (I think he'd love riding in a car and be fascinated by modern technology in general.)

  6. Catching up on many posts. Wonderful photo after stunning image after drop-dead beauty. You live in a beautiful part of the country and travel to interesting places and I love getting my share of what you see.

    This is one instance where the comments were particularly interesting. I think the most fun would be to be in the car with both Jefferson and Ben Franklin. Jefferson would want to drive out to see what Lewis and Clark saw and Ben would want to stop at every roadside attraction.

    Here in Madison, our university reporter did a long and very informative story talking to folks at UW about what happened at Virginia. Some of what our crazed right-wing governor and recently-departed university chancellor were interested in doing was very similar to the attitudes exhibited in the VA debacle.