In the last two months, the University of Virginia has released scores of eMails that were exchanged between top leaders in the months leading up to the failed ouster of President Teresa Sullivan in June, the Washington Post reports. These eMails, which are public records, were requested by reporters who are searching for clues as to what exactly happened and why. That means I have spent a chunk of my summer reading these documents — which have, unexpectedly, provided an illuminating tour of the inner workings of a major university and the higher education topics that its leaders care about most. One of my favorite examples comes from a batch of e-mails that were released in late July at the request of C-Ville, a weekly magazine in Charlottesville: On Dec. 9, governing board leader Helen E. Dragas sent an eMail to Sullivan and Provost John Simon with the subject line: “tough headline.” All that was in the message was a link to a blog post by The Heritage Foundation headlined, “The Lady Gaga-fication of Higher Ed.” (The piece questioned why four top-tier universities — “Four!” — offered courses revolving around pop icon Lady Gaga. U-Va. was singled out.)

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