New emails have been released concerning the controversial ouster of University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan. They came in by the thousands, most in support of President Sullivan, many illustrating the anger felt by staff, alumni and the community over the way the situation was handled.
The emails were first obtained by The Washington Post. NBC29 received copies of 2,500 emails from UVA Rector Helen Dragas' account. The correspondences paint a better picture of who was in the loop before Sullivan was forced to resign in June.
The emails show at least 12 members of the UVA Board of Visitors had some knowledge of a growing plan to remove Sullivan from power.
Most board members claimed they didn't know about the coup when they unanimously reinstated her in late June. However, the emails reveal Dragas made attempts in early June - just days before Sullivan was asked to step down - to meet with a number of board members, using cryptic words that later trailed into private phone calls.
Buried in the communications that spanned late May through June was a message from Dean of the UVA McIntire School of Commerce Carl Zeithaml to Dragas saying, "I agree 100 percent with the decision. I am with you 100 percent."
On the phone Wednesday night, Zeithaml told NBC29 the email is taken out of context. He says it was a "knee-jerk reaction" based off frustration on the lack of Sullivan's progress on a number of things. Zeithaml added that if he had all the information when he wrote the email, it would have been different.
Among the emails, countless alumni said they would be holding off any future financial donations to the university until they knew the facts surrounding what happened with Sullivan.
From the morning an interim president was introduced to Dragas' next public communication the following afternoon, more than 5,500 emails came in from alumni alone, all but a few expressing disgust at what was happening at the university.
Perhaps the most interesting email we came across was sent directly to President Sullivan from a 1969 UVA grad. It read, "I was at Monticello and heard the sound of a large fan on high speed. As I drew closer to the Jefferson family cemetery, it became louder. At last, I came to realize it was Mr. Jefferson - spinning in his grave."
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