All original threads should be at least 250 words. This parameter helps to promote writing that is thorough, yet concise enough to permit other students to read all the postings. The thoughts and opinions expressed in your thread need to be substantiated by research and literature (from the textbook or outside sources). All references should be in correct APA style. While this is a formal discussion environment, you are allowed to use the first person perspective in all your posts since you will be expressing your personal opinions. All original threads should: Bring clarity to the issues being discussed. Raise new and novel (yet relevant) points. Relate issues to personal experience. Rationally defend your stated position.
Leading through Multiple Crises
In 2010, Teresa Sullivan became the first female president at the University of Virginia. Her leadership style was quite different from that of her predecessors, but does different mean better? This activity is important because it exemplifies how certain situations call for certain styles of leadership.
The goal of this activity is to apply your knowledge of behavioral style theories to understand when certain leader behaviors are more effective than others.
Read the case about challenges facing the leadership at the University of Virginia. Then, using the 3-step problem-solving approach, answer the questions that follow.
The University of Virginia (UVA) was founded in 1819 by Thomas Jefferson. The universitys current mission is as follows:
The University of Virginia is a public institution of higher learning guided by a founding vision of discovery, innovation, and development of the full potential of talented students from all walks of life. We are defined by:
Our enduring commitment to a vibrant and unique residential learning environment marked by the free and collegial exchange of ideas;
- Our unwavering support of a collaborative, diverse community bound together by distinctive foundational values of honor, integrity, trust, and respect;
- Our universal dedication to excellence and affordable access.1
Teresa Sullivan became UVAs first female president in 2010, taking over for John Casteen, a charismatic leader who was highly adept at fund-raising. Fund-raising is a key role for university presidents. Sullivans previous job was as provost of the University of Michigan. She had never before served as a university president, reported to a board of directors, or been responsible for raising money, according to Fortune. Fortune reporter Patricia Sellers recently concluded that in her presidency, Sullivan has been unspectacular when it comes to fund-raising, which is particularly crucial at a time of diminishing state funding.2
Sellers described President Sullivan as pleasant and plainspoken and noted she came across more like a grandmother than a chief executive. During their interview, Sullivan said that the public places too much emphasis on leadership, which results in placing too much blame on leaders. She also commented that her goal is to be a sustainable leader who builds a team and leads collaboratively, and that she has a burning desire to solve problems.3
Others who work with Sullivan describe her as extremely smart and analyticalshe graduated first in her class in high school and obtained a PhD in sociology from the University of Chicago.
Sullivan described herself to Sellers as being inclined toward introspection and not letting the emotion overtake that. She also admitted that she tends to shut down in a crisis and doesnt want to be viewed as emotional, because Theres a negative stereotype of women being overemotional and thus not able to lead. Sullivan articulated her leadership strategy as, Dont overreact. Reason my way to a solution. And keep the good of the school in front of me.4
Situational Factors Affected Sullivans Leadership
Three significant events affected Sullivans leadership. The question is whether she used the best form of leadership in each situation.
1. UVAs board asked Sullivan to leave.
The board, which consists of members appointed by the states governor, elected a chairHelen Dragaswho did not get along with Sullivan. Dragas, who has a BA and MBA, leads a real estate development company, is tough-minded, and according to Fortune possesses a personality that conflicts with Sullivans. Dragas was unhappy with Sullivans strategy for online education and pushed Sullivan to come up with a new plan. Sullivan resisted this pressure and failed to provide a detailed plan, disappointing the board. In a surprise move, Dragas asked Sullivan to sign a resignation letter in June 2012. The board believed faculty and students disliked the president, and Dragas told Sullivan the board had lost confidence in her leadership. Critics also noted that the universitys ranking in U.S. News & World Report had dropped from No. 15 in 1988 to No. 25 in 2015; it dropped to No. 26 in 2016.5 National rankings are very important to most universities.
Ten days later, Sullivan was set to give her resignation address to the board when a major protest developed on campus. Thousands of people gathered to defend Sullivan and demand her reinstatement. The governor pressured the board to resolve the situation, and the board reinstated Sullivan as president. Dragas told Fortune that none of this would have happened had the president submitted a concrete strategic and financial plan.6 Sullivan decided to return as president and displayed no residual anger toward the board.
2. A student was murdered, and Rolling Stone published an article about alleged gang rape on campus.
Sullivan learned in September 2015 that student Hannah Graham was missing. As police searched for Graham, Sullivan met with her parents. There was no news I could give them that they didnt already have. They wanted to talk about Hannah, and I wanted to listen, she told The Washington Post. Sadly, Grahams body was found off campus and a man was arrested and charged with her murder. John Graham, Hannahs father, told the Post that President Sullivan and other members of the University were extremely supportive at the time of Hannahs disappearance, and remain so.7
Another crisis erupted when Rolling Stone published a story about an alleged gang rape at Phi Kappa Psi, one of UVAs fraternity houses. The article stated that UVA fostered a culture of rape and that the gang rape was part of an initiation ritual and the university officials had actively tied to sweep it under the rug.8 Sullivan left the country for Amsterdam a few hours after the story erupted to attend an academic conference. Three days later she suspended social activities at all fraternities and sororities. Some thought Sullivans response was an overreaction because the facts were still being investigated. Ultimately, Rolling Stone admitted the story had discrepancies and it was later totally discredited. The Charlottesville police department found no evidence of rape, and several lawsuits against the magazine are currently pending.9
While all this was going on, the Phi Kappa Psi house was vandalized and members were threatened. Demonstrators on campus also called for removal of the Greek system. Others felt Greeks had suffered because of the manner in which Sullivan responded to the crisis.10
The alleged rape case also led to a change at UVA that was worked out by students and Sullivans staff. A collaborative agreement was developed that specified at least three sober and lucid fraternity members will monitor behavior at parties where jungle juice and other potent alcohol punches will be banned along with beer in kegs. Guest lists are to be tightly enforced at the door. One monitor will be in charge of watching frat-house bedrooms with a set of keys to guard against sexual assaults. The New York Times concluded that the new code focuses candidly on already well-known frat-culture excesses that for too long have invited uncontrolled and even criminal behavior on some campuses.11
3. Race-related issues took the stage.
In March 2015, an African American student, Martese Johnson, suffered head injuries while being arrested by white Alcoholic Beverage Control police officers outside a bar. The situation was inflamed by the fact that Johnson served as vice-chair of the student honors committee, and racial unrest in the United States was high due to events in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City. Johnson pleaded not guilty to charges of public intoxication and obstruction of justice.
Students began protesting on campus within 24 hours of Johnsons arrest. Sullivan responded by contacting the governor and asking for an investigation. She also released a statement about wanting to find the truth surrounding this situation. The new student council president said Sullivan has struggled to provide the emotional leadership that the community needs.12
As Sullivan reflected on the fact that the board was debating whether to renew her contract, set to expire in July 2016, she noted that it was a mistake to leave campus after the Rolling Stone article. She does believe it was a good decision, however, to suspend social activities within the Greek system. According to Fortune, Sullivan would like to remain as president of UVA, but she doesnt know if she has cemented enough board support to win a new contract.13
Apply the 3-Step Problem Solving Approach to OB
Step 1: Define the problem.
Step 2: Identify causes of the problem by using material from this chapter, summarized in the Organizing Framework shown in Figure 13.6. Causes will appear in either the Inputs box or the Processes box.
Step 3: Make your recommendations for solving the problem. Consider whether you want to resolve it, solve it, or dissolve it (see Section 1.5). Which recommendation is desirable and feasible?
1. University of Virginia Mission Statement, http://www.virginia.edu/statementofpurpose/purpose.html, accessed April 25, 2016.
2. P. Sellers, The Unluckiest President in America, Fortune, April 1, 2015, 97102.
5. National Universities Rankings, U.S. News & World Report, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/rankings/national- universities/data, accessed April 25, 2016.
6. P. Sellers, The Unluckiest President in America, Fortune, April 1, 2015, 97102.
7. T. Rees Shapiro, U-Va. President on Hearing Rolling Stone Allegations: I Was Sick to My Stomach, The Washington Post, May 26, 2015, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2015/05/26/u-va-president-on-hearing-rolling-stone-allegations-i-was-sick-to-my-stomach/, accessed April 25, 2016.
9. P. Sellers, The Unluckiest President in America, Fortune, April 1, 2015, 97102; and D. Victor, Former University of Virginia Fraternity Members Sue Rolling Stone, The New York Times, July 29, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/30/business/media/former-university-of-virginia-fraternity-members-sue-rolling-stone.html, accessed April 25, 2016.
10. Blair Naso, How UVA President Teresa Sullivan Sold Out the Heritage of Virginia, April 7, 2015, http://www.returnofkings.com/60781/uva-president-teresa-sullivan-sold-out-the-heritage-of-virginia, accessed April 25, 2016.
11. Spring Rush at the University of Virginia, The New York Times, January 7, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/08/opinion/spring-rush-at-the-university-of-virginia.html?_r=0, accessed April 25, 2016.
12. P. Sellers, The Unluckiest President in America, Fortune, April 1, 2015, 97102.
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