It seems the majority of the Charlottesville community is in violent agreement about the mishandling of the resignation of University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan. I am continuing to focus on the communications gaffes; above all, the assumption that the Board of Visitors could “control” the message by releasing the news on a Sunday morning. As the lack of information perpetuates, now three days past the announcement, speculation abounds.
When releasing sensitive information to the public, it’s important to be clear, specific and as transparent as possible. The Board of Visitors’ failure to do this and satisfactorily provide the explanation of how the dismissal/resignation occurred and why has only served to fuel the collective imagination of the community. And boy do our imaginations run wild.
How much better it would have been, if the messages had been delivered in an organized, clear and cohesive manner. How much less damage control would University staff have to do, if clarity were employed, if planning of message delivery had been managed and a group effort was evident.
I’m not addressing here the obvious issue of the resignation not making a lot of sense . . . but rather the failure to appropriately communicate it to the world.
If you’re trying to avoid the extra work of putting out rumor fires, be up front with your information in the first place.