The sudden ouster of University of Virginia president Teresa A. Sullivan caught students, faculty, and alumni by surprise. The clumsily handled firing has left faculty and alumni confused and upset, and has prompted calls for governing-board members to explain why they fired her.
A lack of clear communication from the university’s governing board has led to widespread speculation about the board’s reasons for taking such a radical step. The board cited “philosophical differences” when explaining its decision. But another unanswered question surrounds the firing. Could the firing be linked to an unresolved, decades-old allegation of “scientific misconduct,” related to a book Sullivan co-wrote with — of all people — Harvard’s infamous phony Cherokee, Elizabeth Warren?
More than 20 years ago, Sullivan and Warren (along with a third co-author, Jay Westbrook) published a book entitled “As We Forgive Our Debtors: Bankruptcy and Consumer Credit in America.” In a review following publication, Rutgers professor Philip Shuchman accused the authors of “scientific miconduct” in research they conducted for the book.
Less than two weeks ago, Breitbart.com began publishing the results of its investigation into the allegation that Warren and Sullivan (along with Westbrook) had engaged in “scientific misconduct.” Sullivan denied the charge in a written response to Breitbart News. Turns out though, the issue was never properly resolved. As for the timing of all this: Shortly after Shuchman’s allegation reemerged, Sullivan lost her job. Many are wondering why Sullivan, who was by all accounts a popular president, agreed to step down so suddenly without a fight and without public comment.
Could it be that the Pow Wow Chow plagiarist and the vanishing Virginia president are tangled up in the same web of deceit? Until more information emerges, we simply don’t know for certain why the board abruptly dismissed Sullivan. But the timing of the Breitbart investigation is, at the very least, highly coincidental.
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