Sullivan Ouster Fallout Felt on Grounds
In the wake of the ouster of UVA President Teresa Sullivan, UVA students, faculty, and employees have voiced outrage. Now one highly ranked professor has handed in his resignation.
Following the forced resignation of University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan, volatility has been festering within the UVA community.
Students and faculty are grasping to understand the direction of Mr. Jefferson's university in the wake of the board of visitors' early morning vote to name Carl Zeithaml as the university's interim president.
Most people were asleep when the board made its announcement at the rotunda and as the day wore on, the significance started to sink in - President Sullivan is not coming back.
Just before dawn on Tuesday morning, UVA Rector Helen Dragas emerged from the rotunda to students and members of the UVA community yelling "Resign!" and "Shame on you."
And by daylight on grounds, the feelings had no dissipated. "Any decision this board had taken was under the cloud of no confidence," said Keith Williams, assistant professor in the department of physics.
Williams has spent eight years at UVA and now questions faculty support for the interim president.
"It looks like there might be undetermined leadership, lack of confidence and so forth well into the future," he said.
That already has forced at least one long-time faculty member to turn in his resignation. University Professor Bill Wulf received UVA's first Ph.D. in computer science in 1968.
In a letter to the interim president, Wulf writes, "I do not wish to be associated with an institution being as badly run as the current UVA. A BOV that so poorly understands UVA, and academic culture more generally, is going to make a lot more dumb decisions, so the university is headed for disaster."
"Many faculty who have the ability to leave were already looking to do so, so this comes as the final straw for some people," explained Williams.
Students are still trying to make sense of the board's decision to ignore faculty senate demands.
Eric Campos, a UVA second-year student, said, "Considering they won't reinstate Teresa Sullivan, I guess that's the best solution right now."
Catherine Celis, another second-year student, added, "It kind of makes me nervous. It's summer right now, so hopefully they can get their stuff together before the next school year."
The Dawson family from Connecticut is touring grounds as their son gets ready for college. But they say they're not worried about the presidential uproar.
Mary Dawson said, "I think the size and depth of the educational background of this institution is more than sufficient to carry the day."
UVA College Republicans are urging Governor Bob McDonnell to get involved.
UVA College Republicans Vice Chair Rory Stolzenberg added, "We think we can move forward, but really the only way to do it is if we have that transparency and can have this open discussion."
Williams worries the board's lack of reaction is fueling more suspicion on grounds. "The decision will drive a deep wedge in UVA."
A Facebook group has already formed - calling itself "Operation Firestorm".
They're encouraging the UVA community to contact the governor to demand more transparency.
NBC29 has also heard from professors - who asked to remain anonymous - that there's an email floating around encouraging them to boycott the start of classes in the fall.