Friday afternoon, University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan received an extension on her contract.
The full UVA Board of Visitors voted to extend Sullivan's contract by one year. After much praise, she received a standing ovation.
The vote was unanimous, but most board members were kept in the dark about the extension. Sullivan said she had been in talks with Rector Helen Dragas about the issue for a few weeks.
Sullivan is now in the third year of her contract, and will be at UVA for another three years. She says the extension will help her as she tackles long-range problems at the university, including faculty salaries.
"This means my team and I can be in place to do those things most important of which is to get our strategic plan together," Sullivan said.
Dragas said, "We hope to give her time to create the future for the University of Virginia and begin to implement her plans."
Board members say they are encouraged by the team Sullivan has put together in the wake of her reinstatement. They say UVA finally has unified leadership.
The extension goes into effect immediately. There are no other changes to the contract, including salary. Sullivan signed it following the board meeting.
The board also agreed that in the future, all board members must be present before contemplating any changes to the university president's contract. That replaces the former rule, which said only three members were necessary.
University of Virginia News Release
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA. Nov. 9, 2012 — The University of Virginia Board of Visitors voted unanimously today to extend the five-year contract of President Teresa A. Sullivan for a sixth year.
Sullivan's contract will now run through July 31, 2016.
Rector Helen E. Dragas asked for the motion to be put forward at the conclusion of the board's three-day meeting this week.
"The president and her administration have been vigorously addressing many of the vexing questions that face the University and all of higher education – including issues of sustainable funding, academic quality, and new delivery methods," Dragas said. "Despite what you may read or hear elsewhere, this board and this administration are working hard on exactly the things that demand our attention. We can't afford to expend our energies and our time elsewhere. And we are all working together."
Citing the board's extensive discussions about proposed changes in its governance, and noting the President's leadership in launching a robust strategic planning process and developing long-term financial plans that will protect and advance faculty excellence, Dragas said the board has demonstrated its commitment to the University's future as well as its partnership with Sullivan and her administration.
"We recognize that these initiatives will take time to advance and accomplish," she said. "There are no silver bullets, but this extension is a clear indication of our commitment to our working partnership with President Sullivan."
Vice Rector George K. Martin made the motion to extend Sullivan's contract. "I strongly believe that we have a great president in Terry Sullivan," he said. "She has clearly done an excellent job of leading our University and engaging faculty, students, parents, and alumni. Our University community has confidence in her and has trust in her.
"This board shares that confidence and trust."
After the vote, Sullivan expressed her gratitude for the contract extension and for the vote of confidence it represents. "This extension will allow us to take a longer view as we continue working together to plan the University's future, identify priorities, and marshal resources to achieve our goals," she said.
The strategic planning effort comes at a critical time for the University, she said. "We will be asking ourselves questions that are fundamental to the University's mission now and in the years ahead – questions about the distinctive value of residential education, innovation in the classroom, what it means to be a public university in the 21st century, and how we can identify and align the interests our schools share so they can effectively work together to distinguish the University," she said.
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