Financial Issues Come to Forefront in Sullivan's Ouster

Posted: Updated: June 17, 2012 07:49 PM

Accusations of financial failures of University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan are front and center in her forced resignation.

Last week, the University of Virginia Board of Visitors hinted at a lack of success, on Sullivan's part, to draw in big dollar donors.  In addition, over the past week, rumors and speculation, compounded by a leaked email and resignation of Darden School Foundation Chair Peter Kiernan, has focused the conversation of Sullivan's stepping down, to fiscal issues.  

In January of 2010, Former Rector of John Wynne told a crowd, "Terry is an extraordinary talent who brings to the university an enormous depth and breadth of experience in literally every aspect of higher education."  

That was the hope just over two years ago, when she was named to be the next president of the university.

UVA was looking to newly-appointed President Teresa Sullivan to help its investments rebound from the market crash in 2008. According to the University of Virginia Investment Management Company (UVIMCO), in 2009, the university saw a decrease of 21 percent on their yearly return. Dropping the market value from $5.1 billion to $3.9 billion.    

UVIMCO is the entity that provides investment management services for the university's endowment foundations and other entities linked to the university.   

However, through Sullivan's first year as president in 2010, the endowment picked up a 15.1 percent gain in that year's return, pushing UVA's market value to $4.4 billion. That progress snowballed in 2011 with a 24.3 percent gain in returns, which brought the university back to $5.3 billion.  

UVA Alumni Association President Tom Faulders said, "The endowment has returned to levels higher than before the 2008 meltdown, which is all great news for the university."  

But even with the endowment back to pre-recession numbers, UVA's Capital Campaign which was supposed to hit $3 billion by the end of last year, has slowed, and as of April 30, 2012, sits at $2.66 billion.  

Faulders said, "I get the impression that the board wanted, to use the analogy, wanted her to step on the accelerator more rapidly than maybe she was doing."  

Last year, Sullivan reported philanthropic giving through April 30, 2011, to the university was up 11.94 percent compared to 2010.   However, during the board of visitors' meeting in May, Sullivan reported that philanthropic giving through April 30, 2012 was up just 3.25 percent above the results of 2011.    

Faulders said, "Obviously, we were all disappointed the campaign didn't reach its final number at the end of last year and I think those who are working on it are very hopeful they'll get to that at the end of the year, and I've seen people point to that as a reason."  

UVIMCO will close books on June 30, which is when the official end of year investment returns will be released.