UVA Board of Visitors Reinstates Sullivan as President
Over two weeks ago, news broke that University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan was being pushed out by UVA's Board of Visitors. The announcement led to protests, an outpouring of support for Sullivan and a growing movement to bring her back.
Then Friday Governor Bob McDonnell sent a message to the 15-member board of visitors, essentially telling them to decide once and for all who was going to lead UVA.
In a special meeting Tuesday, the board voted unanimously to reinstate Sullivan as UVA's president, and the crowd outside the rotunda roared when they heard an announcement of the decision.
Resolution: "The Board of Visitors rescinds the Second Amendment to the President's Employment Agreement, subject to the approval and acceptance of the President, thereby reinstating the President's initial Employment Agreement of January 11, 2010, as amended by the First Amendment to the Employment Agreement; and further
"The Board of Visitors rescinds the naming of Carl P. Zeithaml as Interim President of the University, and rescinds the authority previously granted to the Executive Committee to negotiate and execute a contract or employment agreement with the Interim President."
Following more than two weeks of turmoil, it only took 30 minutes to reinstate Sullivan as president of UVA. But leading up to the board of visitors' meeting, there was uncertainty about the final vote count.
UVA Board of Visitors member Heywood Fralin said, "It was extraordinarily important. It shows that the university is more unified than ever."
Sullivan entered the board room with UVA Rector Helen Dragas - the person who helped orchestrate Sullivan's ouster. Dragas said in her statement the two had a cordial conversation at Carr's Hill just moments before the showdown at the rotunda.
Sullivan said, "I think we're all resolved to make this work and that's really all I can say about it."
Fralin, who has been a Sullivan supporter, made the motion to reinstate Sullivan at Tuesday's meeting. He also told the room that the plot to force her resignation was known to all board members, but many board members didn't think the votes were there to finalize the action earlier this month.
"Sometimes we all make bad decisions and I think this board realized it was a bad decision," Fralin said.
Dragas would not answer questions about her change of mind once the meeting was over. In the board room, Dragas announced her vote to reinstate Sullivan as an "unequivocal" yes.
"It presents us with a unique opportunity to move forward in a way that didn't exist before," said Dragas.
Shortly after the vote, Sullivan thanked the board members for their renewed confidence in her leadership of UVA. She then headed outside the rotunda and addressed hundreds of faculty, students and others who had organized a show of support for her.
Now Sullivan moves ahead as the permanent president with the task of bringing together a university, and moving it forward.
Dragas is up for reappointment by Governor McDonnell at the end of this month. The governor has not made any announcements at this point. Three other board spots are also up for reappointment.