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Students & Faculty Gather for Silent Vigil to Support Sullivan - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

UVA Students & Faculty Gather for Silent Vigil to Support Sullivan

Posted: Updated: June 20, 2012 11:41 PM EDT

After University of Virginia Interim President Carl Zeithaml spoke to the media in a news conference Wednesday afternoon, student and faculty gathered for a silent vigil in support of President Teresa Sullivan.

About 100 people turned their backs on UVA's rotunda Wednesday evening, in a symbolic gesture.  Their silence saying all they really needed to say.

Gweneth West, a former chair of the UVA Faculty Senate, said, "It is a very emotional issue.  This was a leader who was a change agent for us and we began moving forward in directions that I don't believe we ever thought were possible before."

The protest lasted a mere three minutes.  The reason behind it still stirring emotions across the university days after President Sullivan's forced resignation.

"So what you're seeing here in all of the faculty moving forward is really the manifestation of the belief she had in us and the empowerment we felt from her leadership," West said.

Jennifer Bartell, a UVA graduate student, said, "I think the best possible outcome at this point is probably to put into better place some kind of checks against the power of the board of visitor, because they've shown a lot of insulting hubris at this point in the way that they've treated the rest of the university."

The gathering was organized by UVA's Faculty Senate, which earlier in the day watched a steady stream of people sign up for various task forces in an attempt to get Sullivan reinstated as president.

George Cohen, chair of the UVA Faculty Senate, said, "Everyone keeps asking us 'What can I do? What can I do?' And we're trying to provide concrete things where we can use help and people can help us."

"There's no one out here who's out here for their own gain.  Everyone is here because we believe in this university and we want to make it the best it can be," said Margaret Plews-Ogan with UVA General Medicine and Geriatric Medicine.

The UVA Faculty Senate has organized a "Rally for Honor" at 2 p.m. on Sunday.

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