The University of Virginia Board of Visitors today acted to reinstate Teresa A. Sullivan as president of the University.
“The past two weeks have been trying for all of us in the University community,” Sullivan said. “While this period of uncertainty has been difficult, I believe that those with opposing viewpoints have been well-intentioned, acting only with the best interests of the University in mind.”
“While many believe that the past two weeks have threatened our great institution, I believe that we have been strengthened by the experience. It has, in fact, propelled our academic community to a new place and made it ready to face a quickened pace of change.
“My goal is to harness the enthusiasm that has been generated and use it to the University’s competitive advantage.”
The board’s decision follows 16 days of vigorous dialogue about the future of the University, which was sparked by the announcement on June 10 that Rector Helen E. Dragas and other board members had asked for Sullivan’s resignation.
The resolution reinstating Sullivan reads as follows:
“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.”
Sullivan called on the University community to work together to craft solutions to the challenges facing U.Va. and higher education and to quickly move beyond philosophical differences that have emerged.
“I pledge to set aside any differences we might have, and to work hand-in-hand with Rector Dragas and all members of the Board of Visitors as we face the challenges that have been articulated – and find solutions that will further distinguish the University,” Sullivan said.
Board of Visitors member and former Rector Heywood Fralin said the university is “united unlike ever before in my memory.”
“The University community has been solid in its support of President Sullivan and has clearly communicated that to the rest of the state, the nation, and the world. Today, the board has made the right decision in reinstating President Sullivan,” Fralin said.
“Speaking for myself, but probably with the agreement of every member of this Board of Visitors, I would like to thank the many students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends who have demonstrated their strong opinions and concerns for the University of Virginia during this tumultuous time. You deeply love this University and want it to remain one of the world’s top institutions. The University community – working together – will make this happen.”
Sullivan said she was eager to resume her job, including working with the board, faculty, administration, staff and students to fully develop and implement strategic plans to ensure the University’s future.
“Today begins a new day at the University of Virginia, one in which we set aside any hurts that have been inflicted, build on the collaborative bonds that have been formed, and move as one. All eyes are on us; we must show the world that we are strong, but also forgiving, and that we live by the values of honor and integrity and civility,” Sullivan said.
She also thanked those who provided support and encouraged her reinstatement.
“The support has been overwhelming and deeply touching,” she said. “I will do all in my power not to disappoint.”
She expressed particular gratitude to Carl P. Zeithaml, dean of the McIntire School of Commerce, who initially agreed to assume the role of interim president but later suspended that appointment to provide time for further discussion and to allow the Board of Visitors to resolve Sullivan’s status.
“Carl has always been a devoted citizen of our community and his actions of the past week speak to that commitment,” she said.
In January 2010, Sullivan was unanimously elected by the Board Visitors to become U.Va.’s eighth president – and its first woman president. She succeeded John T. Casteen III, who served as University president for 20 years.
She began her term on Aug. 1, 2010, after serving as provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at the University of Michigan. Her role there included serving as chief budget officer, overseeing $1.5 billion of Michigan’s $5.4 billion annual budget.
Prior to Michigan, Sullivan spent 27 years at the University of Texas at Austin, where her roles included executive vice chancellor for academic affairs for the university’s system.
At U.Va. Sullivan has worked to build rapport with the University community and beyond. Major initiatives of her presidency have included the introduction and early phase implementation of a new financial model designed to increase the University’s efficiency, development of a fiscal year 2013 budget that holds tuition increases to their lowest level in a decade, and a trip to East and Southeast Asia to build partnerships and raise the University’s global profile.
Sullivan also has worked with the leadership of the U.Va. Health System to begin a strategic review of the fast-growing medical center and to advance efforts to rapidly commercialize the University’s intellectual property and inventions.