UVA Faculty, Alumni, and Students Speak Out on Sullivan Ouster
Friday, more people are piling on their support of University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan as sought after meetings are scheduled for early next week. The drumbeat to reinstate President Sullivan is getting louder, and faculty, alumni, and students are all speaking out, demanding answers from the board of visitors.
"I get a new email about every minute," said UVA Alumni Association President Tom Faulders.
Faulders says his email inbox has exploded since Sunday's announcement, with university alumni expressing their overwhelming support for UVA President Sullivan. Faulders says most people are shocked about this situation. He also says he doesn't know any alumni who knew about this plan.
"Why? What rose, what happened to rise to such a level that the president needed to resign? And I believe most alumni feel they haven't got a satisfactory answer," he said.
Thursday, Chairman of the Darden School Foundation Board of Trustees Peter Kiernan resigned after it was revealed he knew about the plan to oust Sullivan for weeks. In a leaked email, Kiernan mentioned two Virginia alums who also knew about it. Faulders says he doesn't know who those two alums might be, but he says the board should say something more publicly.
In statements earlier this week, UVA Rector Helen Dragas said the reasons behind Sullivan's departure were confidential and she cited philosophical differences. Faulders hinted that money pressures might have something to do with all this. Last year, the university failed to meet its fundraising goals for the endowment, but he also notes fundraising levels are higher now than they were before the recession hit in 2008.
At the same time, the UVA Faculty Senate continues their demands to be included in the process. Chair-elect of the UVA Faculty Senate Chris Holstege confirms he, faculty member Gweneth West, and current chair George Cohen participated in a brief conference call Thursday evening Dragas and vice rector Mark Kington.
"We had a collegial discussion for 15 minutes and agreed we would have a face-to-face meeting sometime in the future," Holstege said.
UVA's Student Council is also requesting answers, saying in a statement, "The University of Virginia Student Council, as both representatives and members of the student body, respectfully requests a full explanation of the events and circumstances surrounding the departure of President Teresa Sullivan."
"The board of visitors has no requirement to say anything more than they've already said," said Faulders. "I personally would urge them to be more open about it though."
But even with answers, the UVA Faculty Senate admits reinstating Sullivan could be difficult. "There's little at our disposal," Holstege said. "As a faculty, as a cohesive group, we have that, and that in itself is powerful."
The UVA Faculty Senate will hold an emergency meeting Sunday at 5 p.m. in Abbott Hall at the Darden School. They're expected to ratify their resolution expressing a vote of no confidence in the board of visitors. In addition, on Monday at 9 a.m. the Faculty Senate Executive Council will meet with the board of visitors.
Governor Bob McDonnell also commented on Friday. On a conference call from London, he told reporters the board should establish a "very clear and transparent process" on appointing a permanent president. The board of visitors is set to hold a closed-door session Monday at 3 p.m. to look at appointing an interim president.
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Derick Waller joined the NBC 29 news team in August, 2010. Prior to this, Derick graduated with degrees in both broadcast journalism and political science from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. Email/Follow on Twitter/ Full Story