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What is Happening at UVA?

I am just getting up to speed. On June 10, 2012, the Board of Visitors (the corporate board of the University of Virginia) announced the forced resignation of UVA’s President Teresa Sullivan, two years into her tenure as president. The decision has surprised and upset the university community, and events appear to be on a fast track toward the “reinstatement” of President Sullivan and the exit of Rector Helen Dragas from the BOV.

The UVA Alumni Association is maintaining a timeline of major statements by various university stakeholders. These can be read here and here.

Below is my own timeline of major developments as I understand them. I may update this as I learn new information and further developments occur.

June 8 – President Sullivan meets with Rector Dragas and Vice Rector Mark Kington, who inform her that the BOV has sufficient votes to demand her resignation. President Sullivan apparently tenders her resignation.

June 10 – Rector Dragas convenes an emergency meeting of the BOV. Only three members of the board attend, the minimum for a quorum. Dragas appears to have previously polled other members by telephone to reach the required number of board members to confirm President Sullivan’s early dismissal.

Rector Dragas announces to the UVA community that the BOV has requested and received President Sullivan’s resignation effective August 15. The email includes a short statement attributed to President Sullivan citing a “philosophical difference of opinion” between her and the BOV. The email emphasizes the BOV’s concern with formulating a “concrete strategic vision” for the  university.

Governor Bob McDonnell releases a brief statement thanking President Sullivan and expressing his confidence in the BOV. Many statements in the first few days express similar sentiments (see here).

June 11 – In what appears to be the first critical response by an important university constituency, the Faculty Senate Executive Council releases a statement calling the BOV’s statement “inadequate and unsatisfactory,” and requests further information. Many statements, some critical, are released by other constituencies and administrators in the ensuing days (again, see here and here).

June 12 – A group of department chairs and program directors publish an open letter supporting the Faculty Senate Executive Council’s June 11 request for more information on the BOV’s decision.

June 13The Hook publishes a story suggesting that President’s Sullivan’s ouster may have been a “coup” orchestrated by a group of Darden School affiliates with possible connections to Goldman Sachs. The paper continues to run stories on this angle (such as here and here).

June 14 – The Faculty Senate Executive Council unanimously declares its support for President Sullivan and lack of confidence in Rector Dragas.

Darden School Foundation Board of Trustees Chairman Peter Kiernan announces his resignation. Kiernan had resigned over controversy sparked by a leaked email in which he acknowledged participating in planning for President Sullivan’s replacement weeks prior to her resignation.

June 17 – In an emergency session, the Faculty Senate ratifies the June 14 declaration of the Faculty Senate Executive Committee stating its support for President Sullivan and lack of confidence in Rector Dragas.

June 18 – At between 2:40 and 3:30 in the morning, a vandal paints the letters G-R-E-E-E-D on the six pillars of the Rotunda.

A large crowd of up to 2,000 people gathers for a meeting of the BOV and President Sullivan, predominantly in support of Sullivan.

President Sullivan releases her first statement to the BOV describing elements of her disagreement with the board and discussing the university’s focus and initiatives during her tenure, including several budgetary matters. Sullivan affirms the characterization of her administrative philosophy as “incrementalist” and dismisses calls for “sweeping action” as “gratifying” but imprudent.

The BOV is reported to have retained the services of a PR firm. The university later provides some elaboration on the firm’s services.

June 19 – The BOV votes 12-1 to name Carl Zeithaml, Dean of the School of Commerce, interim president effective August 16.

Vice Rector Mark Kington resigns from the BOV over the mounting controversy.

June 20 – The Faculty Senate holds a 5 PM vigil on the Lawn in support of President Sullivan.

June 21 – Rector Dragas releases a statement by email providing further information about the BOV’s decision to ask for the resignation of President Sullivan. The statement lists ten challenges or areas of concern the BOV considers the university to be facing, including fundraising and other budgetary issues and a lack of institutional priorities. The BOV reiterates its concern for the formation of a concrete plan.

President Sullivan releases a statement to the UVA community calling for civility. She rejects criticism of the designated interim president, Carl Zeithaml, notes that the BOV are “dedicated volunteers,” and criticizes the vandalism of the Rotunda.

June 22 – In a special meeting, the General Faculty Council passes a resolution expressing its support for President Sullivan and its lack of confidence in Rector Dragas.

The BOV schedules a meeting for June 26, apparently to consider reinstating President Sullivan.

The BOV’s designated interim president, Carl Zeithaml, suspends consideration of his candidacy for the office pending “clarification” of President Sullivan’s status.

June 23 – Governor Bob McDonnell releases a statement declaring that he will demand the resignation of the entire BOV if it does not clearly resolve the university’s leadership at its June 26 meeting.

June 24 – About 1,500 people gather on the Lawn in a “Rally for Honor” in support of President Sullivan’s reinstatement.

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