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A Town of Its Own

Paul Mahoney

Paul G. Mahoney

Charles de Gaulle famously questioned whether one could govern a nation that has 246 different kinds of cheese. One might ask an analogous question about a modern university. As Harvard General Counsel Robert Iuliano ’86 says in these pages, a university is essentially a town of its own, with residences and office buildings, food service, entertainment, a hospital, a police force, and thousands of employees. Like a town and unlike a business, it does not have a single, measurable bottom-line objective. Instead, it has students who wish to acquire skills, knowledge, and judgment, to build social and professional networks, to find satisfying employment, and to have fun. It has faculty who aim to create new knowledge even as they convey existing knowledge to their students. University administrators attempt to coordinate these disparate activities, manage crises, uphold the institution’s values and reputation, and of course see to it that the university lives within its means.

This is an enormously difficult task. At a public university it is all the more challenging because of political oversight, both directly and through governing boards. In this issue, we get the perspectives of alumni, faculty, and friends of the Law School who are experts in the business of higher education. They provide thoughtful insights into the foundational question of how a public university should be governed. I think you will find it immensely interesting reading.

Early this year, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, after consultation with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, announced the elimination of the military’s rules excluding women from assignment to ground combat units. No one was more pleased than the members of the Molly Pitcher Project, a group of UVA Law students, a faculty member, and an alumna. They advised a team of lawyers that had filed a federal discrimination suit challenging the ban and worked to build public support for their position. After Secretary Panetta’s announcement, Professor Anne Coughlin, the Project’s leader, met with military leaders to discuss the implementation of the new policy. This issue provides a timely look at this sometimes heated policy debate.

We also provide an update on the Law School’s initiatives in business law. We are proud to announce the naming of the John W. Glynn, Jr. Law & Business Program. The Program has gone from strength to strength since its creation in 2002, and John has been a champion and supporter throughout. John’s advice and presence in the classroom have been invaluable in maintaining Virginia’s status as a leader in business law.

Rather than rest on its laurels, the Law School continues to innovate in business law education. Dick Crawford ’74, who has a Virginia B.A., J.D., and MBA, discusses Rivanna Investments, through which a group of students receive training in money management and then, under Dick’s careful supervision, manage a modest slice of the Law School’s endowment.

It has been an exciting year at the Law School. I hope you will enjoy reading about some of the people and events who have made it so.