Zeithaml Suspends Further Negotiations with UVA Board of Visitors
University of Virginia
Interim President Carl Zeithaml says he will step aside and let the drama play
out on grounds. The UVA Board of Visitors
is set to vote Tuesday on ousted President Teresa Sullivan's reinstatement.
Zeithaml spoke out about
his decision in a news conference at 1:00 p.m. Friday. "My role is to step back, let the
decision be made," he said.
Just days after being
named interim president, Zeithaml suspended his role on Friday.
He said, "If I
attempted to do the things that I talked about the other day, in terms of
moving the university forward, it would be premature."
Zeithaml dodged questions
concerning whether he thought ousted Sullivan should be reinstated. Instead, he said it was a board of visitors'
"I don't want to
compromise my position," he said. "And
there are so many forces at work."
But if Sullivan is
reinstated on Tuesday, Zeithaml said he will gladly step aside and continue as
dean of the McIntire School of Commerce.
"I will be very happy
to come back to the McIntire School and work on my syllabus for the fall
semester," he said.
Past, current and future
chairs of the UVA Faculty Senate were also at the press conference. Faculty Senate Chair George Cohen said Zeithaml
made the right call.
"We're all in this
together and I think we're all on the same page now," Cohen said.
Zeithaml says that he tried
to call Sullivan after the news broke Thursday regarding the board's special
meeting but couldn't get through and left a message. He did talk with UVA Rector Helen Dragas who
understood Zeithaml's decision.
Zeithaml was also quick to
say he thinks Dragas believed she was doing the right thing when she asked Sullivan
to resign. He said, "Helen Dragas
is not an evil person."
The board of visitors will
meet on Tuesday at 3 p.m. in the rotunda to talk about more changes to Sullivan's
employment agreement. The meeting and
any motions, votes, or discussion will be done entirely in the public eye.
The NBC29 newsroom received the following statement from UVA Interim President Carl Zeithaml:
Dear University colleagues:
I am grateful for the trust that members of the University's Board of Visitors expressed in asking me to serve as interim president during this extraordinarily difficult time in the life of our University. I made the decision to accept this transition role because of my love for U.Va., as well as my desire to help in a time of crisis.
In the three days since I accepted this position, I have talked to many in our community about what transpired on Grounds while I was out of the country on University business, and I received a great deal of input from numerous colleagues, including members of the faculty. I deeply appreciate and respect this input.
Clearly, we agree that the University and its reputation have been damaged these past 13 days, but that together we can mend the harm done and move our great University forward. Trust, one of our core institutional values, has been compromised.
There is an enormous groundswell of support for Terry Sullivan's reinstatement as our president, and I understand that the Board will meet next week to consider this possibility. As a result, I am suspending any further negotiations with the Board regarding my status as interim president, as well as any activities associated with this role. In the meantime, I will return my focus to the McIntire School.
Trust cannot be restored in our community until the President Sullivan's status is clarified and ultimately resolved.
With Kind Regards,
Dean of the McIntire School of Commerce
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