Miller cuts UVA Board term short, blasts leadership

Ed Miller takes issue with the Board of Visitors leadership. Photo: UVA University Communications Ed Miller takes issue with the Board of Visitors leadership. Photo: UVA University Communications

Dr. Edward D. Miller, former Johns Hopkins medical school dean and health system CEO, resigned from UVA’s Board of Visitors March 15, and said in a statement he could “no longer support the direction the University of Virginia’s leadership continues to pursue.” His resignation is effective June 30.

Miller, who was also on the UVA faculty, said, “I do not believe I have been able to bring any of my expertise in academia, health care, or research to the University.” He cited the decline in research funding, and asked, “How can a university call itself a great research university when it ranks so low in the nation?” And he called last month’s surprise 11 percent tuition and fees hike for incoming in-state first-years “unacceptable,” and wondered why the faculty isn’t protesting.

Said Miller, “[T]he only thing the administration has done during my time on the Board of Visitors is mortgage a significant part of the Commonwealth’s academic future.”

Rector George Martin expressed appreciation for Miller’s service and expertise, and defended the board decisions that Miller blasted. He said the Affordable Excellence financial model will reduce the amount of debt many UVA students carry by $10,000. “For 70 percent of Virginia households, Affordable Excellence will reduce the net cost of a UVA education,” said Martin.

Research funding is up the past year, said Martin, and he blamed the 2010-2013 decline on the “end of the federal stimulus funding, sequestration and long-term reductions to key agencies such as the National Institutes for Health.”

Continuing a tradition of naming supporters to the board, Governor Terry McAuliffe appointed Mark L. Bowles, who served on McAuliffe’s campaign finance committee and co-chaired his inaugural finance committee, to complete Miller’s term, which runs through 2016. Bowles was chief of staff for former Democratic Congressman L.F. Payne, and currently is a partner at and lobbyist for powerhouse McGuireWoods, which has two other partners—Martin and Frank Atkinson—on the BOV.

The loss of an academic and scientist also continues another trend on the business-heavy 17-member board, which has 12 appointees from the business world, two attorneys and three MDs.

Miller joined former rector Helen Dragas in calling for the General Assembly to reverse the tuition hike, and Dragas said with Miller’s departure, UVA “has lost one of the best academic medical center leaders in the world.”