Governor McDonnell placed William Goodwin on the UVa board to be a guiding influence. Meanwhile various "sunlight" organizations also have reported him to be a large financial contributor (over half a million dollars) to McDonnell's political activities.
Goodwin, with unilateral behavior similar to Helen Dragas, has proved tobe as much of a distraction from accepted board procedures as has Ms. Dragas. He did not attend the University as an undergraduate, and he shows little respect for UVa's core principles in his comments to the press and in online streaming of BOV meetings. It's hard to believe he runs his own
business that way.
Goodwin is a Virginia Tech grad who later got an MBA at UVa. His counsel would be more appropriate in Blacksburg at his alma mater. Gov. McDonnell holds a law degree from Pat Robertson's Regent U. and he's Robertson's kind
of leader. That's hardly in keeping with Thomas Jefferson's world view. The UVa Founder championed separation of church and state and opposed unilateral, monarchical governance.
UVa is a university where Jefferson gave
priority to prohibitions against the establishment of religion, just as he did in founding our nation.
Goodwin's comments are difficult for educated people to support. He claims that public access to meetings and Freedom of Information requests are harmful to BOV procedures. He fails to mention that UVa is a public university—one of the best—and its activities are open to public scrutiny.
He has compared his own view of BOV issues to how he deals with his personal marital relationship.
How can a world-class faculty respect a Board member who talks and thinks like that? Thus Gov. McDonnell and his supporters have put both our university and our state in jeopardy; the results will lead to economic losses, not just jokes on TV shows. Who wants to do business in such an atmosphere? Or go to college where these attitudes rule? Whose Virginia is this? Clearly not Jefferson's.
Jefferson often wrote about the University of Virginia as he envisioned it; he wrote in Dec. 1820:
"This institution will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind. For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it."
(Feel free to follow it up at:
And Jefferson also wrote, "I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, ..." -- Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, Paris, January 30, 1787.
If we believe that Jefferson's University of Virgina is a part of our public heritage, it's time we did something besides accept homilies and platitudes from a governor who is uncommitted to mainstream higher education and from his political appointees. Seems a little rebellion may be a good thing.
March 19, 2013
[The above appeared as a letter to the editor in the Charlottesville Daily Progress.]