In the wake of UVA President Teresa Sullivan's resignation on June 10, many members of the faculty and student body have responded. These responses (until June 17) are compiled below. Read part 2 (June 17-21), part 3 with alumni comments (June 21-26) and post-reinstatement messages.

Non-Voting Student BOV Member Hillary Hurd's Statement to Students

June 17, 2012

Listening to students, I have heard their deep sense of frustration and concern, and I have urged the Board to provide more information about the reasons for its actions.

As the Board moves forward – regardless of the path it takes – there needs to be more openness and communication. As the new, non-voting student member, this will be my primary message to the Board when it meets on Monday.

Honor Committee statement on Board’s handling of Sullivan’s resignation

June 17, 2012

Last Sunday, the Board of Visitors announced the resignation of Teresa Sullivan as President of the University of Virginia. Although this decision does not involve an act of lying, cheating, or stealing, the announcement and following justification have been unsettling to our Community of Trust.

Despite the diversity of opinions about the Honor System, over the course of its 170-year history, it has consistently served as a distinctive ethical framework by which UVA community members conduct themselves and treat each other. We expect each individual to speak and act with honesty and integrity, and as such, trust serves as the foundation of our community.

The lack of information given by the Board of Visitors is troubling because it is perceived as running counter to the standards to which we hold each other accountable as members of this community. We do not deny the Board’s authority to make this decision nor question the merits behind it. However, the lack of a clear and full explanation has created an environment that is inconsistent with the value of trust that runs through the very fabric of our University.

We believe the Board of Visitors is a group of dedicated and caring individuals committed to acting in UVA’s best interests. We are also confident that this University will continue to offer a world-class education and unique opportunity for its students. The way in which we continue to excel is to live by the principles that have guided us to this point.

In times of challenge, it is often easier for individuals to remain passive. However, this institution’s values teach us that such a choice is unacceptable. We call upon students to come together to speak and act constructively, as student self-governance requires of us, to move this University forward. Our community is resilient, greater than any one individual, and will endure. Yet, we cannot fully move forward until the foundation of trust that sustains our community is renewed.

Sincerely,
Stephen Nash, Chair
On Behalf of the University of Virginia Honor Committee

Email from Tom Faulders, President of the Alumni Association, to Alumni

June 15, 2012

After making history as the University of Virginia's first female president, Teresa Sullivan earned widespread popularity and respect among UVA's faculty, staff, students and its alumni around the world. Her resignation, resulting from philosophical differences with the Board of Visitors, has shocked and angered many in the University community and has attracted national media coverage. An email yesterday from John Simon, executive vice president and provost, and Michael Strine, executive vice president and chief operating officer, made it clear that the "Board of Visitors' action is resolute and authoritative." They clearly state that there is no going back, no reconciliation and no changing this decision. Those are the facts as we know them.

A big part of the Alumni Association's mission is to keep alumni in touch with each other and well informed about events at the University—an undertaking that has been particularly difficult during the past week. Since Sunday's announcement, there has been nothing we've been able to add to what's already been discussed in various statements from the Board of Visitors and other members of the UVA community or reported by the media. We have compiled a timeline of these official University communications that you may find helpful. We will continuously update this page as new information becomes available.

Just as you have, we have been reading newspaper articles, their accompanying comments, Facebook discussions, blogs and Twitter feeds. We have also received numerous emails and phone calls from alumni regarding the events of the past week. Clearly, most alumni are concerned, angry and confused about the recent developments at our beloved university.

This leads us to another critical part of the Alumni Association's mission—to help alumni have a strong voice at their alma mater. We have created an official repository in which alumni can share their concerns, questions and comments with the Board of Visitors.

Please visit this page if you would like to weigh in.

We will compile your comments and present them to university officials and the Board of Visitors by the end of next week. We also plan to provide an overview of what we hear from you in next month's Virginia Magazine e-newsletter.

We all love this university. Please share your thoughts and ideas with those who are in decision-making positions.

Tom Faulders (CLAS '71)
President & CEO, University of Virginia Alumni Association

Email from Paul G. Mahoney, Dean, School of Law

June 15, 2012

Most of you have heard that President Sullivan resigned at the request of the Board of Visitors and have questions about why it happened and what comes next.  I first learned about the resignation shortly before the Sunday press release and was as surprised as you are.  I do not have any information about the Board’s decision beyond what has been reported.

The Law School is proud to be part of a great national institution and cares about the future of the University and its leadership.  We will focus on controlling what we can, which is continuing the Law School’s success in a way that reflects well on the University.

The past week’s events have been personally difficult for the Law School community.  Professor Doug Laycock, President Sullivan’s husband, is a deeply valued colleague.  The Law School will also be focused in the coming weeks on offering Doug and Terry our continued friendship and support.

Best,
Paul

Open Letter to the Board of Visitors from the School of Nursing faculty senators and chairs

June 15, 2012

We, the department chairs and faculty senators of the School of Nursing are profoundly moved by the unexpected events of this week.  We are writing to express our solidarity with President Sullivan and our strongest disagreement with the secretive and unilateral process used by the Board of Visitors to oust a president we believe to be a positive and motivating force for the University of Virginia and for all of academia. 

We are very concerned, as are other schools at this University, that recruitment of top-notch faculty, continued quality education, and effective fundraising will be seriously harmed by the Board of Visitors’ action. We are also concerned that the continued reputation of the University, which prides itself on honesty, integrity, and unimpeachable honor, is in jeopardy.

The Board of Visitors must uphold the same qualities as the University and we believe that this is not currently the case.  Whatever the Board’s reasons for disagreement with President Sullivan, the process through which you demanded her resignation lacked the respect and openness which we associate with Mr. Jefferson’s University. 

We heartily agree with Hunter Rawlings, the president of the Association of American Universities and former president of Cornell who stated, “This is the most egregious case I have ever seen of mismanagement by a governing board. It’s secretive, it’s misguided and based on the public statements, there's no clear rationale.”

We were proud to belong to a University led by a woman of the stature and integrity of President Sullivan.  She has, on every occasion we can identify, displayed honesty, forthrightness, and integrity.  She had a tremendous grasp of the issues facing the University and higher education in Virginia.  She and the University deserve an open and honest accounting of the dealings of the Board of Visitors. 

Signed:

Arlene W. Keeling, PhD, RN, FAAN
Professor and Chair, Department of Acute & Specialty Care

Pamela A. Kulbok, DNSc, RN, FAAN
Professor and Chair, Department of Family, Community and Mental Health Systems

Mary Gibson, PhD, RN
Assistant Professor
Faculty Senator

Kathryn Laughon, PhD, RN, FAAN
Associate Professor
Faculty Senator

UVA Faculty Senate to Meet in Emergency Session on Sunday

June 15, 2012

The University of Virginia Faculty Senate will hold an emergency meeting Sunday at 5 p.m. in Abbott Auditorium at the Darden School of Business (map).

Meetings are open to the public and the media. UVA faculty are being encouraged to attend.

The Senate's bylaws allow the Faculty Senate Executive Committee to meet during times of emergency and to pass resolutions that are then considered by the Senate at its next meeting. The Executive Committee approved a resolution Thursday that expressed strong support for President Teresa Sullivan and was a no-confidence vote in the rector, vice rector and Board of Visitors. (The full text of the resolution can be found on the Faculty Senate website.)

Also, a silent gathering in support of President Sullivan will be held Monday on the Lawn while the Board of Visitors is meeting in the Rotunda to consider candidates for interim president. Participants will gather at 2:30 p.m. in the Colonnade Club (Pavilion VII) and walk to the Rotunda.

George Cohen
Chair, Faculty Senate
gmc3y@virginia.edu

Chris Holstege
Chair-Elect
ch2xf@virginia.edu

Gweneth West
Past Chair
glw2r@virginia.edu

Response of the College of Arts & Sciences Steering Committee

June 15, 2012

Whereas on Friday, June 8, the Rector of the Board of Visitors sought and obtained the resignation of President Teresa Sullivan, representing to her that there were votes enough on the Board to remove her if she refused; and

Whereas the Board of Visitors had not actually entertained a formal motion to remove President Sullivan nor voted on such a motion; and

Whereas in announcing the President’s resignation publicly on Sunday, June 10, the Rector provided no clear, specific or persuasive reasons for the action of the Board; and

Whereas in the view of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences President Sullivan has, since her appointment and amid large challenges, carried out her duties conscientiously and constructively to the benefit of the University; and

Whereas in response to the faculty’s urgent requests for a clear, specific and defensible explanation of the reasons for the Board’s action, the Rector’s letter to the faculty claimed confidentiality and provided no such explanation; and

Whereas the Board of Visitors has proceeded in this matter in a non-transparent and non-consultative manner, seeking no opinion or advice from administrative officers, from the faculty, from the student body or from the alumni; and

Whereas the substance and the manner of the action of the Board have needlessly brought upon the University administrative instability, directional uncertainty, a tarnished reputation and considerable embarrassment; and

Whereas these consequences will inevitably discourage the appeal of the University to prospective administrative and faculty appointments, to prospective students and their parents and guardians, and to prospective benefactors and diminish the loyalty of present and past members of the University community; and

Whereas the faculty of Arts and Sciences believes that for all these reasons the Board of Visitors acted unwisely, inappropriately and contrary to the best interests of the University and by extension to the Commonwealth of Virginia more broadly, it is hereby

Resolved:

  1. the Faculty of Arts and Sciences expresses its high respect and deep appreciation to President Sullivan for her contributions to the academic programs of the University and to the spirit of the University community; and
  2. the Faculty of Arts and Sciences has no confidence in the Rector, the Vice-Rector and the Board of Visitors as a whole.

Student Council’s Request to the Board of Visitors

June 15, 2012

To whom it may concern:

On Sunday, June 10th, the University of Virginia community was informed that Dr. Teresa Sullivan was stepping down from her position as President. Well-respected by the student body and known for a very high level of engagement, her departure after only two years came as a shock to the University community. Few expected her departure to come so soon. Or under such opaque circumstances.

The University of Virginia has a long and storied history, one steeped with a strong sense of the values upon which it was founded. Above all else, we belong to an institution of honor and honesty, of openness and respect. And it is under these values that we deem the current state of information on President Sullivan’s departure wholly untenable. The University of Virginia community is entitled to more information. The statements by the Board of Visitors and other University officials up to this point have been abstract, unclear, and at times contradictory.  The University of Virginia Student Council is not taking sides or placing blame, yet we feel it is our duty to provide every student at the University of Virginia the clarity and understanding they are owed.

It is our hope that students will come together as we begin to write the next chapter in the University’s history.

To the Board— The University of Virginia Student Council, as both representatives and members of the student body, respectfully requests a full explanation of the events and circumstances surrounding the departure of President Teresa Sullivan. Throughout the history of our institution, every student has been called upon to uphold the values of the University of Virginia. We the students are now calling upon the Board of Visitors to do the same.

With Regards,
The University of Virginia Student Council

Faculty Declares Lack of Confidence in Rector, Vice Rector, Board

June 14, 2012

The executive council of the University of Virginia Faculty Senate has unanimously declared a lack of confidence in Rector Helen E. Dragas, Vice Rector Mark Kington and the board of visitors following the ouster of President Teresa Sullivan.

The resolution, issued this afternoon, reads as follows:

Resolved, that the Faculty Senate of the University of Virginia hereby:

  1. Expresses its strong support of President Sullivan.
  2. Expresses its lack of confidence in the Rector, the Vice Rector, and the Board of Visitors.

We offer this resolution mindful of the best interests of the University and the Commonwealth.

George Cohen
Chair, UVA Faculty Senate

As reported here.

Peter Kiernan offers public letter, resigns from Darden Foundation Board of Trustees

June 14, 2012

To the UVA Community,

As someone who has profound respect and love for the University of Virginia, I write to apologize for my role in further complicating the already difficult situation after Teresa Sullivan’s resignation as president.

The content of my e-mail sent to the Darden School Foundation Board of Trustees on Sunday, June 10, was confusing at a critical moment for the University and unfairly associated the Darden School with a situation in which it was not involved. No one from Darden — not the dean, nor the faculty, nor the administration, nor the Foundation board — was involved. The conversations about President Sullivan’s transition that I referred to in my e-mail were conducted through my own personal relationships and not in any official capacity.

So that my actions do not further impact Darden or the University community, I am stepping down as chair of the Darden School Foundation Board of Trustees and resigning from the board.

Exceptional work is happening at Darden and across the University. As evidenced in recent days, people across the community care deeply about this University and will no doubt ensure that UVA’s future will be as strong as its past. Once again, I apologize to Dean Bruner, and to all of my friends, colleagues and professors at the Darden School and the University of Virginia who have been affected by my actions.

Sincerely,
Peter D. Kiernan

Provost Employee Communication Council Resolution on the Board of Visitors Decision Concerning President Sullivan

June 14, 2012

WHEREAS: The employees of the University of Virginia learned that the Board of Visitors and President Sullivan "mutually agreed that she will step down as president of the University of Virginia effective August 15, 2012;" and

WHEREAS: It is unclear what "faster pace of change in administrative structure, in governance, in financial resource development and in resource prioritization and allocation" the Board favors.

NOW THEREFORE the Provost Employee Communication Council supports the June 11, 2012, UVa Faculty Senate Executive Council Statement on the Board of Visitors Decision Concerning President Sullivan calling for "a full and candid explanation" and requests the Board of Visitors clearly outline their vision and goals so that the University employees may better fulfill the Board's direction and desires.

Email from Steven DeKosky, VP/Dean, School of Medicine

June 14, 2012

By now many of you have learned that President Sullivan will be stepping down as UVA’s president on August 15, 2012. An interim president will soon be named and the search will begin for President Sullivan’s successor.

The announcement was a surprise to all of us. The deans and vice presidents learned the news Sunday morning just before the announcement went out to the community at large. I was at that meeting, and the conversation and questions were focused on understanding the Board's position and plans for leadership transition.

President Sullivan has been a strong advocate for the School of Medicine and UVA Health System. She always exhibited a warm interpersonal style and a sincere interest in our alumni, students, faculty, staff, and friends. She shared our commitment to the success and well-being of the Health System and helped to focus attention on a new Health System Strategic Plan and the successful transition to our Next Gen medical school curriculum.

In her announcement, Rector Helen Dragas spoke about significant challenges faced by the University, including financial pressures, faculty recruitment and retention, pressures on tuition, and the use and expenses of new technology. She also indicated that the pace of change needs to quicken to meet these complex challenges. The announcement referenced the need to make difficult resource allocation decisions in this time of great challenge and change for higher education, medical research, and health care in general.

In the School of Medicine, we have been responding, and will continue to respond, to this environment through innovation in our programs, a newly evolving strategic plan, new targeted centers of excellence, engagement with other medical institutions, and other direct approaches. We need to focus on these issues and position the School of Medicine and the Health System for continued growth and success, while assuring fiscal responsibility.

Clearly, we have much more to do. We need our faculty, staff, students, and alumni to work together, to innovate, to forge ahead with our strategic plan, and to achieve continued excellence.

At this time of transition, I ask for continued confidence in our most important assets: our people. Please let me know if you have questions or concerns, and thank you for all that you do for the School of Medicine, the Health System, and the University.

Respectfully,
Steven T. DeKosky, MD, FAAN, FACP
Vice President and Dean, University of Virginia School of Medicine

Email from Edward Howell, VP/CEO, UVA Medical Center, to Friends of the Medical Center

June 14, 2012

On Sunday, June 10, the University of Virginia Board of Visitors (BOV) announced that President Teresa Sullivan is resigning effective August 15, 2012. Within a few weeks, the BOV will name an interim president, and a formal search for the new president will be conducted over the next year.

President Sullivan has been a strong advocate for the UVA Health System. Her interest in the success and well-being of the Health System led to broadened attendance at the Medical Center Operating Board (MCOB) by BOV members and focused attention on the Health System Clinical Strategic Plan, which is shaping the future of our Health System today and going forward.

With the commitment and support from the Medical Center Operating Board and the Board of Visitors, we are actively implementing our clinical strategy for the Health System. The clear vision provided by our strategic plan has been affirmed by the Board of Visitors and will help us carry out our three missions—providing innovative, superlative care; training health professionals; and creating and sharing health knowledge. Our strategic direction is clear. And, as BOV Rector Helen Dragas indicated, our pace of change will accelerate.

At UVA, we have been responding, and will continue to respond, to the changing healthcare environment through innovation in our clinical programs, new targeted centers of excellence, and increased engagement with other institutions. We need to focus on these issues and position the Health System for continued growth and success, while assuring fiscal responsibility.

At this time of transition, I ask for your continued confidence in our programs and our people as we continue to move forward, innovating new methods of care and remaining committed to excellence for our patients, our staff, and our students. Thank you for your continued interest in the UVA Health System and in the patients we serve.


Respectfully,
R. Edward Howell
Vice President and Chief Executive Officer, UVA Medical Center

Message to the UVA Community from EVP/Provost John Simon and EVP/COO Michael Strine

June 14, 2012

Deans, Vice Presidents, Faculty, Staff and Students of the University of Virginia and the Medical Center and the College at Wise,

The decisions of the weekend have generated anxiety on the Grounds and many of you are uncertain about their implications.  We know that our community is presently unsettled by the unexpected resignation of President Sullivan.

We recognize that some seek more complete knowledge of events and details, some are still absorbing the news, and many have reached out to offer their understanding and solid support of our present duty. We are particularly appreciative of our academic and administrative leaders who have stepped up to share this challenge by reassuring their faculty and staff with strength, vision and optimism.

The Board of Visitors' action is resolute and authoritative. The BoV will take the next steps on Monday to put an interim President in place and will follow with the establishment of a deliberate, principled and thoughtful search process for our next President.

We are committed to advance the University of Virginia, in partnership, and will support the leadership of the interim and next President.

We encourage all of us, even as we adjust and absorb this change, to focus constructively forward in preparing the institution for its next stage of leadership and our shared commitment to quality and excellence in teaching, discovery and patient care.

We ask that you join us in assuring that the University of Virginia continues to be a leader on the forefront of higher education and health care in the world.

John Simon
Executive Vice President and Provost
Robert C. Taylor Professor of Chemistry

Michael Strine
Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer

Response from Rector Helen Dragas to members of UVA Faculty

June 14, 2012

Thank you for your recent correspondence regarding the events of this week. The Board of Visitors understands the serious concern and anxiety raised by the announcement of President Sullivan’s agreement to step down. We comprehend how deeply the entire University family feels a sense of loss and distress at what appeared to be an abrupt turn of events.

We have heard your concern that our deliberation on this matter was not inclusive of the faculty or transparent to the University community. The Board publicly and continuously provided support to President Sullivan in order to advance her success in all aspects of her job, and we continued to do so throughout her tenure. We admire President Sullivan’s broad popularity and acknowledge with much gratitude the many contributions she made to improve the University of Virginia.

Yet, consistent with sound employment practices, it is the policy of the Board to keep confidential matters of disagreement and those relating to evaluation of progress against mutually agreed upon goals. Nevertheless, the Board can assure you that there was ongoing dialogue with the President over an extended period of time, regarding matters for which we are responsible. These include ensuring the long-term health and well-being of the University through development of a credible statement of strategic direction and a long-term resource plan.

In considering the sustainable excellence of this University, the Board acknowledges the central role of faculty governance in matters of academic programming and curriculum. We are very clear on the scope of our fiduciary duties and the limits of our role. The Visitors should not, and will not, reach past or around a president to direct a specific strategic plan or manage its implementation. Rather, the president is expected to engage the academic enterprise in order to ensure a strategic and comprehensive charting of the organization’s future.

The Board has been especially insistent on responsiveness in light of the drumbeat of intense pressures facing the University of Virginia. Among the many challenges, we are especially concerned about the recruitment and retention of you, our esteemed faculty. In fact, recent correspondence to us from a large body of the faculty called for urgent and immediate action, a focus on long-term solutions, and a concrete strategy. It called for plans for raising or redirecting revenue. These calls should be answered by a renewed strategic plan for the University, guided by the president and provost, and created alongside the faculty and deans.

The University has had many longstanding presidents who have advanced its stature. We expect we will find another such successful leader through a thoughtful and deliberate process that will include faculty representation. This Board is not alone among institutions of higher education, public and private, non-profits and corporations that have faced such difficult transitions early in the tenure of a leader.

We can, and will, recruit a stellar new president. Of him or her, we will expect strong, inclusive faculty governance. We also expect that our next leader will help secure the resources and set clear priorities to incent and reward excellence through faculty salaries, support, and sustenance of an engaging and rewarding academic environment.

Collectively we can advance Mr. Jefferson’s University in a way that fulfills his original vision for it to be the most eminent in the United States. The Board of Visitors believes that the future – perhaps the survival – of our country is in the hearts and minds of our young ones. We must, without fail, inspire and lead them to their maximum potential.

We ask for your commitment to join us, the forthcoming interim leader, and our next long-standing president in partnership to create that bright future.

Sincerely,
Helen E. Dragas, Rector
On Behalf of the Board of Visitors

President Sullivan's Strategic Plan (Originally Drafted May 3, 2012)

I have now had my senior team in place for nearly an entire academic year, and I am writing to provide a personal perspective on strategic direction for the Academic Division at the University. Since I arrived in August 2010, I have worked with the Rector and Visitors on planning for two other important functions of the University: the strategic plan for the Health Center and a strategic exercise to examine and benchmark our financial aid program, AccessUVa. These two areas represent large financial commitments of the University and also important risk areas. The academic program, however, is the heart of our mission. These ideas here have been shaped by discussion with the Provost, the Chief Operating Officer, deans, and other key personnel, but this framing is my own.

At the time of my appointment, I was explicitly instructed not to do a strategic plan for the academic program. The University had already conducted a series of strategic plans, and the faculty were said to be fatigued and discouraged by the lack of follow-through on those plans. For the last several years, the University of Virginia has been guided by the strategic plans, Virginia 2020 and the Commission on the Future of the University (COFU). These documents have served as a roadmap for the advancement of the University. The central strategies of Virginia 2020 (developed in 2002) focused on four themes: fine and performing arts, science and technology, international activities, and public service and outreach. COFU (developed in 2008) narrowed the focus to three immediate priorities: the student experience, advancing education and research in STEM-H fields, and global education. The Board has been provided several updates on COFU and the University has made limited strides forward in implementing the aspirations expressed by these plans.

Continue reading [PDF] >>

Email from Architecture Dean Kim Tanzer to Architecture Alumni

June 13, 2012

By now, you have probably heard the news that President Teresa Sullivan is stepping down as president of the University of Virginia as of August 15, 2012. If you missed the initial announcement by BOV Rector Helen Dragas, you can find it—and additional, official details—here. As you can imagine, the news has generated significant attention on a national scale and here in Charlottesville.

This news came to us as a complete surprise here at the A-school, as it no doubt did to you. In addition to her good work on behalf of the entire University, President Sullivan has been a great advocate and partner for the School of Architecture. In so many ways she partnered with and supported the School, such as when she invited an A-School studio to her home on Carr’s Hill to propose sustainability upgrades, and more recently when she hosted a luncheon with key partners in Beijing to celebrate the School’s China program. She has demonstrated a commitment to our disciplines, our research and teaching methodologies, and our unique role as a catalyst of interdisciplinary, engaged scholarship. We are truly thankful for her leadership.

Even as we reflect, it is vitally important that we not allow this decision to deter our forward focus and momentum. An institution as rich in accomplishment and promise as the University of Virginia is able to endure, indeed prosper, in the midst of changes--even those at the highest levels of its leadership. The A-school in particular remains as committed as ever to our mission of providing our students the very best education and our faculty a first-rate environment for teaching, design, research, and service. We will also continue to play an important institutional role in ensuring UVA maintains its longstanding excellence and preeminence.

In the coming weeks, I will continue to work closely with all parts of our A-school and University communities so that, together, we can forge the best possible future for our School and our University. Open dialogue and interdisciplinary collaboration—hallmarks of the UVA A-school—will be vital to these conversations. Higher education is at a turning point but our community is poised and ready to provide valuable leadership in the context of the broader University of which we are a part.

Your encouragement, support, and participation are, as always, warmly welcome. I know many of you have questions and as I learn more, I will share additional information with you. Thank you for all you do to make our School and the University strong.

Sincerely,
Kim Tanzer, Dean and Edward E. Elson Professor

Email from McIntire Dean Carl Zeithaml

June 13, 2012

On Sunday, June 10, the University of Virginia Board of Visitors announced that President Teresa Sullivan is resigning effective August 15. Within a few weeks, the BOV will name an Interim President, and a formal search for the new President will be conducted over the next year. The news surprised virtually everyone. Terry was a supporter of the Commerce School and our faculty, staff, and students. She worked with us on instituting differential tuition and other initiatives that are important to the future of the School. Recently, I spent most of a week traveling with her to three major cities in Asia, and she was publicly very positive on the School and all of our activities. I personally appreciate her efforts over the past two years to engage with the University community and to help us achieve our goals.

The BOV determined that the University requires more bold and assertive leadership. The Rector and Vice Rector emphasized the need for a compelling vision that can drive fundraising and new revenues. They also discussed the need to make difficult resource allocation decisions in a time of great challenge and change for higher education. Terry’s approach was perceived as more incremental, and the BOV essentially concluded over the last year that a "philosophical difference” existed regarding the best approach to deal with the issues confronting UVA and higher education. During the meeting announcing the decision to the deans and vice presidents, the Rector focused on several issues that she believes are critical, including recruiting and retaining great faculty and staff, lagging compensation for faculty and staff, tuition and the overall financing of the University, and the use of new technology in higher education. I completely agree that these issues are critical, and, as many of you know, the McIntire School is fully engaged with them and have several proposals and actions under way to address these issues with respect to our faculty and programs.

The challenges and pressures on higher education and business schools are real, and the pace of change is accelerating. We have been and will continue to respond to this environment through innovation in our programs and an aggressive approach when confronting the tough problems mentioned above. We need to be entrepreneurial, strategic, and position the School for continued preeminence. Thanks to our entire community, our record of success and commitment to continuous innovation and improvement speaks for itself. I believe that we have much more to do, and we have the faculty, staff, students, and alumni to innovate and to achieve continued excellence.

At this time, we should rely on one of our most important assets: our strong sense of community. We need to continue to work together to pursue our goals and to be a leader on Grounds and in the industry. We are working closely with the University administration on our pending proposals, and we should forge ahead with new ideas and activities. The BOV is looking for decisive and bold action, and we should continue to give them what they want.

I am very proud to serve the McIntire School and the University and to be a member of such a wonderful community. We appreciate your ongoing support, and please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.

Sincerely,

Carl Zeithaml, Dean
McIntire School of Commerce

Student Board of Visitors representative supports Sullivan’s resignation

June 12, 2012

Fourth-year College Student Hillary Hurd, the student representative to the Board of Visitors, is one of the first with internal knowledge about the “mutual agreement” leading to University President Teresa A. Sullivan’s resignation to comment on the matter. She told The Cavalier Daily yesterday she had full confidence in the Board’s decision. Her interview with The Cavalier Daily took place following a two-hour conversation she had with University Rector Helen Dragas. Continue reading >>

Open Letter from Arts & Sciences Chairs and Program Directors

June 12, 2012

The undersigned Department Chairs and Program Directors of the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences write in support of the letter submitted by the Faculty Senate to protest the resignation of President Teresa Sullivan and to join in the university-wide request for clarification. We understand the Board’s fiduciary responsibilities and believe they can be performed most effectively for the mission of the University in conversation with the faculty—the stewards of that mission of higher education. As leaders of the University’s core academic unit, we think it crucial to understand better the rationale for this decision. Continue reading >>

Email from Nursing Dean Dorrie Fontaine

June 12, 2012

As you learned in the email that Rector Helen Dragas sent to the University community on Sunday, President Teresa Sullivan will step down on August 15, 2012.

President Sullivan has been a strong advocate for our School of Nursing, and I will greatly miss working with her.  I have valued her leadership and friendship.  She has demonstrated the values of compassion, thoughtfulness, and respect that we cherish in the field of nursing and the SON community.

Rector Dragas spoke to the vice presidents and deans about significant challenges faced by the University, including financial pressures and faculty recruitment during a wave of retirements.  The Board of Visitors has stated that the pace of change needs to quicken to meet these complex challenges.

As we honor our values and traditions, the School of Nursing is also in a transformational mode.  A rise in rankings, major federal and foundation grants that raise our profile nationally, the successful completion of the McLeod renovation campaign, and six exceptional new faculty hires show that we are on the right track.  We are responding to critical and complex needs in health care by broadening the impact of our nursing science and compassionate practice on the lives of patients, families, and communities.

Nurses cultivate a spirit of resilience and calm presence that is important in times of change.  The School of Nursing will respond to the changes here at UVA and continue to show how we contribute to the strength of the University.  Our alumni and friends play vital roles within the SON community.  I am proud of your accomplishments and grateful for your support.

Sincerely,
Dorrie Fontaine, RN, PhD, FAAN
Sadie Heath Cabaniss Professor of Nursing and Dean

Student Council’s Statement on the Departure of President Sullivan

June 11, 2012

The University of Virginia Student Council would like to thank President Teresa Sullivan for her service to this university over the past two years. Dr. Sullivan has worked tirelessly to ensure that the University of Virginia continues to be a worldwide leader in higher education, and we sincerely commend her for her honorable and adroit leadership. Despite our divergent paths moving forward, Student Council wishes her the best in all of her future pursuits. She will forever be a part of the University of Virginia family.

Student Council extends our well wishes to the Board of Visitors as they begin to undertake the trying task of finding both an interim and permanent president and we look forward to lending our support in any way. We continue to be proud of our long-standing traditions of honor, academic excellence, and student self-governance at the University of Virginia, and remain optimistic about the future.

Faculty Senate Statement

June 11, 2012

Yesterday, the Faculty of the University of Virginia, along with the rest of the University community, learned that the Board of Visitors and President Sullivan “mutually agreed that she will step down as president of the University of Virginia effective August 15, 2012.” We are shocked and dismayed by this news. We were blindsided by this decision.

The Faculty Senate Executive Council has worked closely and effectively with President Sullivan during her two-year term. She has impressed us with her intelligence, leadership, and commitment to transparent administration and open, honest communication. We witnessed her renowned dedication to higher education. She excited faculty across the Grounds and created a sense of optimism about the University’s future.

We find the Board’s statement inadequate and unsatisfactory. We understand that the University, like most of its peer institutions, faces tremendous challenges. We believe President Sullivan made meaningful progress toward meeting these challenges, and put in place strategies and personnel to move the University forward.

As elected representatives of the faculty, we are entitled to a full and candid explanation of this sudden and drastic change in University leadership. We intend to investigate this matter thoroughly and expeditiously, and will meet with the Board as soon as possible. The Faculty Senate will continue to gather and give voice to faculty views and do all we can to preserve and protect strong faculty governance at the University.

We are determined and committed that Mr. Jefferson’s University will continue to be a beacon of excellence, honor, and compassion in a troubled world.

Email from Curry Dean Bob Pianta

June 11, 2012

As you know, on Sunday, the UVA community was sent the announcement below from the Rector of the Board of Visitors telling us that President Sullivan will be stepping down on August 15. This news was surprising, and I wanted to take a moment to share with you what I know.

First, I would like to say that I have a deep appreciation for the ways President Sullivan engaged all aspects of the University community and for her thoughtful and steady approach to leadership. President Sullivan
was always appreciative and supportive of the Curry School's mission and people, and I will miss working with her.

This news was announced to the deans and vice presidents Sunday morning just before the announcement went out to the community at large.  I was at that meeting, and the conversation and questions were focused both on understanding the Board's position, plans for current reporting and leadership, and plans for leadership transition. As is mentioned in the announcement, the Board will appoint an interim president in the next few weeks and then launch a search for a new president.

One of the very clear messages during the meeting yesterday morning was that we must continue in our efforts toward excellence, impact, and innovation. Several times it was mentioned that the world is changing rapidly and we at UVA must both align with and lead that change.  The message was clear that this cannot be a period of interruption of momentum or focus. I am very pleased to share with you that Curry was one of the schools mentioned by the Rector as reflecting focus and momentum.

My clear sense is that our path at Curry is to continue our work toward scholarship excellence, academic quality, innovation, expansion, and links to the field that make a difference for society.  I believe these are all well aligned with the Board's long-term vision for the University.

Again, I think I speak for us all in saying this news was surprising and that we appreciate President Sullivan's very real contributions to the University and the the Charlottesville community.

Bob

Email from Arts & Sciences Dean Meredith Woo

June 11, 2012

By now many of you will have heard that President Sullivan will be stepping down as UVA’s president on August 15. Below are links to the Board of Visitors announcement and the remarks of Rector Helen Dragas at yesterday’s meeting with the University’s Vice Presidents and Deans.

I know I speak for many of you in expressing my gratitude and admiration for President Sullivan's work over the last two years. She has engaged all aspects of the University and has been a ubiquitous presence on Grounds. Her leadership has touched the lives of our students, faculty, staff and alumni. As a faculty member in the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, she has always had a soft spot in her heart for us, and has been naturally supportive of our efforts. I will miss working with her.

Transitions like this can be unsettling. They can also be catalysts for reflection, renewal and reinvigoration. I trust in the wisdom of the Board of Visitors which is unequivocally resolved to swift and bold action to ensure that the University remains in the top echelon of universities well into the 21st century and beyond.

The College is a community that brings together brilliant talents to create new ideas, to find solutions to complex problems, and, most important, to provide the kind of profound educational experience our students expect and deserve. That will not change. With the support of our alumni, parents, friends and volunteers, I know we will stay focused on our mission and our work. I assure you that the College will continue on its ambitious course toward excellence in academics and the extraordinary student experience for which we are so well known.

I would be happy to address your questions or concerns. In the meantime, I thank you for your continued interest in and support of the College.

Best,
Meredith

Gov. Bob McDonnell’s statement on President Sullivan stepping down

June 10, 2012

I want to thank Dr. Teresa Sullivan for her leadership of the University of Virginia over the past two years. Serving as the President of Mr. Jefferson’s University is a tremendous responsibility and she has fulfilled her duties with honor, energy and good stewardship. In addition, President Sullivan has been a great partner with our Administration in our efforts to increase access and affordability at Virginia’s colleges and universities. Through her leadership, Virginia added nearly 1,000 new student slots and recently enacted the lowest yearly tuition increase in over a decade. Having the University of Virginia play such a leading role in higher education reform was immensely helpful in ensuring that this work to expand access and affordability all across our higher education system would be successful and broadly embraced by all state institutions.

Since its founding in 1819, the University has played a seminal role in higher education in America. Thomas Jefferson’s vision lives on today as the University is a modern, diverse and globally-recognized educational landmark. I have great confidence that the Board of Visitors will conduct a thorough and diligent search for the next President of the University and will find the right individual for this prestigious and pivotal post. The University of Virginia has always enjoyed world-class leadership befitting the school’s place in academia, and I am sure that will continue to be the case in the years ahead.

Email from Engineering Dean James Aylor

June 10, 2012

As I am sure that you by now, the BOV and President Sullivan have come to a mutual agreement that she will step down as our President after only two years in that position.  I was at the meeting this morning where the Rector and Vice Rector let the senior administrators know of this decision.  I would like to give you my “take’ on the message and some insight on how this change will affect the School of Engineering.

To say the least, the announcement was a big surprise to all of us.  I felt that she was very popular on Grounds and the senior administrators felt that she was making some significant changes to better the University.   Most of us felt that she had made some excellent hires in the key leadership position.  She was a good friend of the School of Engineering and was working with her new hires to address some of the issues that were facing the School.  She was much more visible in Richmond and was working on issues associated with start-up packages and differential tuition.  She believed that we needed to be more involved at the Federal level and I accompanied her to visits with leaders in the Federal Government.  I trusted her as a leader and enjoyed an excellent relationship with her.

The "philosophical difference of opinion" to which the Rector's announcement refers has to do with the rate of change and progress in the face of long range challenges to the University--the Rector called these "existential threats" or challenges to the existence of the University.  Included among these threats are recruitment, compensation for faculty and staff, new technology, and financing.  The Rector explained that the Board of Visitors seeks "bold, not incremental change;" an approach that President Sullivan advocated.  Evidently, conversations about the rate of change have been ongoing for some time. The Rector said that this action is a call for the development of a compelling vision for the University, followed by the raising and allocation of resources toward that vision.  She also noted that prioritization of activities within the University will be key to the implementation of this vision.

I feel that all of us in the School of Engineering understand the critical nature of these and other issues facing higher education today.  Having just returned from the annual engineering deans meeting, I assure you that most of the engineering schools in the country are facing similar issues.  I feel that the School of Engineering is attempting to address these issues through its new strategic plan as best it can with the resources that it currently has.  I continue to believe that if we continue in the direction that is being outlined, we will be able to make significant improvements.

In that vein, one of the very clear messages during the meeting this morning was that we must continue in our efforts toward excellence and impact.  In terms of the present, John Simon and Michael Strine will provide leadership and as has always been the case, I will report to John.  As is mentioned in the announcement, the Board will appoint an interim president in the next few weeks, and then launch a search for a new president.

We'll get through this. The University is greater than any one person.  As Bob Bruner noted in his letter to the Darden faculty, what really matters in confronting change are values, strength of culture, and depth of leadership throughout an organization--the University has these in great quantity including in the ranks of the faculty. Having said that, I know that we all appreciate the very real contributions of President Sullivan and she will greatly missed at the helm of this great University.

I will be happy to talk to anyone as the change takes place.  -Jim

Email from Darden Dean Robert Bruner

June 10, 2012

I have just come from a meeting with the Rector and Vice Rector of the University. In response to many emails, I want to give you my "take" on the Rector's message.

  1. The news is surprising to us all, given Terry Sullivan's popularity on Grounds and within the senior leadership of the University. She seemed to be grappling with the immediate managerial challenges that UVA faces. Terry Sullivan has been a good friend and supporter of the Darden School. I trusted her as a leader and enjoyed a cordial working relationship.
  2. The "philosophical difference of opinion" to which the Rector's announcement refers has to do with the rate of change and progress in the face of long range challenges to the University--the Rector called these "existential threats" or challenges to the existence of the University. Included among these threats are recruitment, compensation for faculty and staff, new technology, and financing. The Rector explained that the Board of Visitors seeks "bold, not incremental change." Evidently, conversations about the rate of change have been ongoing at least since last fall. The Rector said that this action is a call for the development of a compelling vision for the University, followed by the raising and allocation of resources toward that vision.
  3. We at Darden understand the urgency of the issues because we have been grappling with them for several years. Many of our metrics suggest that Darden has good initiative on dealing with these issues. In fact, relative to most b-schools, Darden is in excellent shape. But this is a moment of unprecedented turmoil in higher education. I have just returned from a week of meetings with tech firms on the West Coast and can confidently assert that the technology coming at us will demand great effort, new skills, more talent, and lots of money in order for Darden to continue to fulfill its mission and to sustain a vision of "world-class impact and stature." [See my latest blog posting on new technology in b-schools.] Fortunately, we are on the way in dealing with the turmoil. But Darden is a microcosm of the challenges that the University faces. History will judge this particular action by the Board of Visitors, but the present context certainly affirms the urgency that Rector Dragas articulates.
  4. We'll get through this. The University is greater than any one person.

As numerous Darden case studies teach, what really matters in confronting change are values, strength of culture, and depth of leadership throughout an organization--the University has these in great quantity. Certainly, the leadership, faculty, and staff at Darden are well-aligned around our mission and performing at a high level. During this period of transition, let's not lose focus on the things that matter: our mission, vision, and world-class performance to those we serve. As the Brits would say, "Keep calm and carry on." Don't spend your energy on rumors and speculation--let's give the Board of Visitors the space to make wise decisions and implement a good transition.

If you have questions or concerns, please look for me at morning coffee any day this week. I won't have much to add beyond what this note conveys but would be glad to chat.

Best regards,
Bob

President Teresa Sullivan Resigns – Rector Helen Dragas Press Conference

June 10, 2012

Read the original statements from Rector Helen Dragas and the Board of Visitors here and here.

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Continue reading responses from June 17-21 here.

Read responses from June 21 - reinstatement here (with nearly 250 community comments below).

Read post-reinstatement messages here.