By Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, Special to CNN
Editor's note: Stephen Joel Trachtenberg is president emeritus and university professor of public service at George Washington University. He is chairman of the Korn/Ferry Higher Education Practice and senior client partner at Korn/Ferry International, an executive recruiting firm.
(CNN) - Those who have been following the recent soap opera at the University of Virginia may think that it has to do with the blundering dismissal of the president, Teresa Sullivan, and her subsequent re-engagement by the Board of Visitors under instruction by the governor of the state to put their house in order or resign.
In fact, the heart of the drama is not about the president. Nor is it about the board. Rather, it is about the principle stakeholders of the University of Virginia and American higher education in general.
Those who recall the campus disruptions protesting the Vietnam War will remember a slogan of the time, "power to the people." It was meant to be a challenge of the "rulers" by the "masses." In 2012 in Charlottesville, Virginia, we see a similar confrontation.
But in place of chanting "Close the university," on this occasion the students, faculty and others assembled on the quad claimed the right to open the university as their own and called for the right to select their own leader - their own president.FULL STORY