UVA President-Elect Ryan Provides Updates on Start Date

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James E. Ryan. Photo courtesy of UVA Today James E. Ryan. Photo courtesy of UVA Today

The University of Virginia's ninth president will now get to work sooner than initially planned.

Incoming President James Ryan tells the UVA community he will now start on August 1, immediately following the conclusion of Teresa Sullivan's term. Ryan was expected to start on October 1, at his request for family reasons. However, he has already started meeting with leaders across UVA's schools and health system.

Ryan is also working to secure two committees to help select a new provost and chief operation officer.

Letter to Community from University of Virginia President-Elect James Ryan:

Dear Members of the University Community:

I hope this email finds you well. I write today to provide an update on my start date and some news regarding the transition.

Over the last several months, I have focused on learning about the University through reading briefings prepared by schools, units, and affiliated organizations; through discussions with deans, vice presidents, faculty, students, staff, alumni, and legislators; and through monthly visits to Grounds.

My goal this semester is to visit each of the University’s schools, the Health System, and the College at Wise, in addition to meeting with a range of individuals and groups across the University. President Sullivan and I will continue to have regular conversations over the course of the transition, and I appreciate her willingness to help me as I prepare to step into the role.

Looking ahead, I am planning to take office on August 1, directly following the conclusion of President Sullivan’s term. I had originally asked to start on October 1 for a variety of family-related reasons, including a family member’s illness and the fact that my wife, Katie, will be staying in Massachusetts during my first year in office with two of our children so that our youngest son can spend his senior year at his current high school.

The Board of Visitors graciously agreed to my request, for which I remain grateful. While those family considerations remain, it is clear to me that starting on August 1 is the right thing to do for the University, given the rhythm of the academic year. I have discussed this with my family, and they are all on board.

As we approach August, I am taking steps to assemble my leadership team and have a few updates to share around key positions. The first is that I will constitute two committees this spring. One will help me select a new provost. Tom Katsouleas had originally planned to step down as provost at the end of this academic year, but has graciously agreed to serve until a new provost can begin. I am grateful for his willingness to do this.

The second committee will search for a new chief operating officer, in anticipation of Pat Hogan’s retirement in June 2019. Pat is also willing to serve as chief operating officer until his successor can begin and to help in a consulting role as we bring a new person on board, for which I am equally grateful. Both Tom and Pat have served the University with distinction, and their willingness to stay in their roles to ensure a smooth transition is a source of comfort to me personally and further evidence of their steadfast commitment to the University.

The second update is related to preparations for the University’s upcoming capital campaign. Given the magnitude of this undertaking and our commitment to its success, I have asked John Jeffries to lead the Advancement team as senior vice president for advancement, which he has agreed to do for three years starting August 1, in order to help us launch and establish a strong start to our campaign.

An alumnus of UVA and a faculty member, John served as dean of the University’s Law School between 2001 and 2008. Winner of the 2017 Thomas Jefferson Award, John has made a tremendous impact in his four decades at the University, both in the classroom and across Grounds, including most recently through his role as chair of the Strategic Investment Fund Faculty Evaluation Committee. As dean, John was highly effective at development and helped the Law School break school and national records for the level of alumni participation in annual giving campaigns. John will work alongside Vice President for Advancement Mark Luellen to help build upon the important momentum already underway as the University prepares for the campaign launch. I am grateful to both John and Mark for their leadership in this critical endeavor.

I hope you will join me in thanking Tom, Pat, Mark, and John for their leadership and continued service to the University. I am looking forward to returning to Charlottesville and to working with all of you. I will see you in August, if not before.


James E. Ryan