By THOMAS BOWMAN
Friday, Feb. 19, started as any other day. I went to all my classes and saw all my friends just as I always do. By nightfall, however, I received an e-mail that turned my world upside-down. As most of us are aware, that e-mail was a notification to the students that President Judy Hample was resigning, effective June 30. As a first-year student, I admit that I don’t know much about Hample. But seeing as she’s been the President of Mary Washington for only two years, not very many people do.
Hample’s two-year presidency has been marred with controversy. In her first year, she was absent from the university more than any other president in our 102-year history. In the fall of 2009 she filed a false report during a safety-walk. And finally, after an anonymous tip to the Division of State Internal Audit, she is being investigated for the $28,000 dollar bookshelves she purchased for Brompton, the president’s house.
My brush with Hample has left me questioning how qualified she is as a University President. Her Bachelor of Arts degree is in communications, so I have trouble believing poor communication skills are the reason for her negative press relations. Could it possibly be that her actions are the problem instead?
According to the Bullet and the Free Lance-Star, Hample has repeatedly refused to release the police records of “the safety-walk scandal.” She attributes this refusal to the advice of her legal counsel. If the misdemeanor charges against her were dropped, what is so secretive that they can’t be released to the press under the Freedom of Information Act?
As a community, students and faculty are all affected by her resignation. We have a right to know what prompted it. According to a Richmond Times-Dispatch quote attributed to George Farrar, the associate vice-president of university relations, her resignation was the result of “a mutual decision” between her and the Board of Visitors.
Most of the reasons she could give in this situation would be acceptable—if she would only cite why she was leaving. Until she does, we have the right to assume it was because she could not handle the job and its pressures.
From what I understand, Hample was hired to lead the University through a period of transition. Resigning after 18 months is not leadership—it’s quitting. Along with her predecessor, William Frawley, Hample will go down as a prime example of what not to do when you’re the president of the University of Mary Washington.