Update: UVA President Reinstated
Update (6/26/2012 4:30 PM): After Governor Bob McDonnell made an ultimatum to the university’s board of directors last Friday to make a final decision by Tuesday, the board has unanimously voted to reinstated president Teresa Sullivan.
The University of Virginia’s Board of Visitors has asked the school’s president, Teresa Sullivan, to step down. Sullivan served as the university’s president for the past two years. The most controversial event to occur during her tenure was the Living Wage Campaign’s hunger strike. The Board of Visitors justified the leadership change because:
In a rapidly changing and highly pressurized external environment in both health care and in academia we believe that the University needs to remain at the forefront of change.
Since this announcement, the University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences has voted no confidence in the Rector, the Vice-Rector, and the Board of Visitors as a whole. They have, also, asked that Sullivan to be reinstated as the school’s president. The Board of Visitors is appointed by the Governor and is led by the Rector, Helen Dragas, who made her fortunes as a developer in Virginia Beach. She donated $1,000 to former Governor Kaine and currently sits on Dominion Power’s Board.
The decision has been met harshly by faculty, students, alumni, and others. Virginia Delegate David Toscano remarked: “I have not heard one single comment from somebody in the community who supports this decision…This is 98 percent opposed. And I haven’t heard from the other two percent.” Multiple rallies have occurred throughout the past weeks.
The Board announced Tuesday, June 19 at 2:39 am, that Carl Zeithaml, Dean of the McIntire School of Commerce, will be University of Virginia’s interim president. The Board votes with twelve votes yes, one vote no, two abstentions. Board Member Heywood Fralin explained his no vote as:
My vote was an indication of my dissatisfaction with the process and the decision that lead to the resignation of Terry Sullivan. I have not been presented with evidence that I believe merits asking for her resignation, nor have I ever indicated that I would be willing to support such an effort. Given an opportunity I would have also voted to support her reinstatement. It is my opinion that the process leading to her resignation was flawed. I am convinced that in the future the Board of Visitors will always meet in a scheduled meeting to discuss issues involving the President.
Complaints have continued that this appointment will continue the corporate style of leadership that led to Sullivan’s departure. Faculty member Siva Vaidhyanathan furthers this notation by stating:
Universities do not have “business models.” They have complementary missions of teaching, research, and public service. Yet such leaders think of universities as a collection of market transactions, instead of a dynamic (I said it) tapestry of creativity, experimentation, rigorous thought, preservation, recreation, vision, critical debate, contemplative spaces, powerful information sources, invention, and immeasurable human capital.
Many wonder if the Governor will have to step into the controversy. Some speculated that Rector Dragas has(/d) aspirations to become governor. Dragas has hired one of the nation’s priciest PR firms to help her manage the crisis. The New York City based Hill & Knowlton Strategies will carry a pricetag of $50,000-$100,000 and will be paid out of a UVA-affiliated foundation. It has yet to be announced if Sullivan will receive a severance package. The UVA Board spent $258,176 on its search for Sullivan.
Jon Henry comes from the small town of Washington, Virginia. Xe finished xes degree at the University of Richmond and was named GayRVA.com's Out.Spoken. Richmonder of the Year for 2011. When not in class, xe is either in the studio or rabble rousing with other queer activists. Follow xem on Twitter.
“This is an issue where we’re getting greater acceptance in Virginia that this is a class of folks that are indeed worthy of protection.”January 21, 2015
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