UVA Interim President Defends Decision, Looks Ahead

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University of Virginia Interim President Carl Zeithaml is defending his decision to take on the controversial role, and looking ahead to the future of UVA.

He says first talks about him filling the interim president position took place last Wednesday.

"I didn't assume the role lightly," he said.  "It was a difficult decision and I had no choice."

Wednesday afternoon, Zeithaml addressed a room packed with journalists, faculty and university officials, giving frank answers to some tough questions. 

"I realize some of you don't trust me," he said.

Zeithaml says his number one priority is to rebuild trust with faculty and students following the forced and sudden resignation of President Sullivan.  He also said no one should question his loyalty to UVA.

He said, "It's devastating that we've lost that trust."

Zeithaml told the crowd:

  • He won't be a permanent president.
  • He does not support the UVA Board of Visitors decision about Sullivan.
  • Provost John Simon will remain on board at UVA.

"We have to unite ourselves," he said.

Zeithaml also talked about taking UVA online with classes to cut costs.  But first, he said he has to familiarize himself with the entire university, not just the McIntire School of Commerce that he oversees.

Regardless of where people stand on the Sullivan issue, Zeithaml says it's his job to now move forward.

He said, "I have to do more with everybody."

Addressing the issue of donors, Zeithaml says some have stepped up in recent days to give more, but others have pulled their money.  He says that loss of donors will only hurt the students and faculty at UVA.

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