In the past year, University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan has been booted from her office, rallied around, rehired and gotten back to the job at hand. But with budget issues and politics still leaning on her, it has not been an easy year.
Sullivan is looking forward, and the turmoil has changed her. She said she took her job back because it's an important one where she can still make a difference.
"I came here to do a job and I don't think the job is finished," she said.
It's a job that had barely begun when Sullivan found out UVA's Board of Visitors wanted her gone for good. Led by Rector Helen Dragas, the board forced Sullivan to quietly resign one year ago.
"There were days that were overwhelming," she said. Overwhelming that they wanted her to leave, and even more overwhelming when so many rallied for her to stay.
"As for acknowledging that every cloud has a silver lining, I'm willing to do that."
That silver lining, Sullivan says, has pushed priorities forward. Ten-thousand people have weighed in on the proposed strategic plan to keep UVA competitive. That plan details future online learning, how UVA will replace a sea of retiring faculty and finding new revenue streams for both the medical and academic sides.
"We are defunding our higher education at the same time others are building theirs up. It's very important that we get this right," Sullivan said.
Sullivan says her new relationship with the board is thoughtful. "It had a forcing function certainly in making us talk candidly to one another in a way we have perhaps not done before."
Sullivan has three years left on her employment contract and plans to stay as long as she has the energy. "I didn't come here with the idea that Virginia was a stepping stone to anything else."
She wants to present the strategic plan in front of the board of visitors in September.
Sullivan also said she is quite frankly tired of talking about what happened last summer; she just wants to move forward.
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