UVa President Teresa Sullivan Stepping Down

June 10, 2012

The University of Virginia Board of Visitors announced Sunday morning that President Teresa Sullivan is stepping down effective August 15.

Earlier in the morning, the board announced it will hold an emergency closed door meeting at 2pm on Sunday to "consider amending the contract of a University employee." Presumably, that employee is Sullivan.

In a statement released by the University, Sullivan indicated there was a philosophical difference of opinion between her and the board.

University of Virginia's Rector Helen Dragas indicated the same philosophical difference at a news conference Sunday afternoon.

"The Board feels strongly and overwhelmingly that we need bold and proactive leadership on tackling the difficult issues that we face," said Dragas. "We have calls internally for resolution of tough financial issues that require hard decisions on resource allocation. The compensation of our valued faculty and staff has continued to decline in real terms, and we acknowledge the tremendous task ahead of making star hires to fill the many spots that will be vacated over the next few years as our eminent faculty members retire in great numbers. These challenges are truly an existential threat to the greatness of UVA."

Dragas said the board will move quickly to name an interim president. They hope to have that position filled before students return in August.

Sullivan made a public appearance Sunday morning, speaking at Mount Zion First African Baptist Church in Charlottesville. CBS19 spoke with her at the event. The only thing she would tell us is that she was not invited to the emergency Board of Visitors Meeting.

Sullivan became only the eighth president of UVa on August 1, 2010. She replaced John Casteen, who stepped down after serving 20 years in the role.

Prior to coming to Charlottesville, Sullivan was the provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at the University of Michigan.

Below is the full statement released by the University:

"The Board of Visitors and President Teresa A. Sullivan today mutually agreed that Sullivan will step down as president of the University of Virginia effective Aug. 15.

Rector Helen E. Dragas said, "We express our deep appreciation to President Sullivan for her effective stewardship of the University. She is a much respected educator, as well as a visible presence in the University community and a prominent voice in higher education."

"It's been a great honor to serve as president of the University of Virginia," Sullivan said. "Although the board and I have a philosophical difference of opinion, I will always treasure having had the opportunity to work with so many gifted faculty and staff, talented students and loyal alumni. I am also grateful for the privilege to have worked with our extraordinary vice presidents and deans."

For the past year, the board has had ongoing discussions about the importance of developing, articulating and acting on a clear and concrete strategic vision. "In a rapidly changing and highly pressurized external environment in both health care and in academia," Dragas said, "we believe that the University needs to remain at the forefront of change."

The board expects to move expeditiously to name an interim president and to begin a search for a new leader.

Dragas added, "The board remains guided by Mr. Jefferson’s founding vision: 'The great object of our aim from the beginning has been to make this Establishment the most eminent in the United States.' "

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