After serving for two years as president of the University of Virginia, President Teresa A. Sullivan will step down as president this August. According to a University press release Sunday morning, the decision was mutual between the Board of Visitors and President Sullivan and will be effective August 15, 2012.
In an email addressed to the University community, the Board provided little information regarding what led to the resignation but did comment, “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. The Board believes that in the rapidly changing and highly pressurized external environment in both health care and in academia, the University needs to remain at the forefront of change… We have made a clear choice to act in the best interest of all concerned.”
The email also quoted President Sullivan saying, “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.”
The Board did not provide any names but promised they “…will move expeditiously to name an interim president and to begin a search for a new leader.” When Rector Helen Dragas was asked in the press conference for further insight into the upcoming search process she commented, “No. I won’t speak to potential candidates at this time. We’ve not even begun a search process.”
The UVA Faculty Senate Executive Council released their reaction to the news Monday evening saying, “We are shocked and dismayed” by the news and were “blindsided by the decision.” The group praised Sullivan as an excellent leader as “She excited faculty across grounds and created a sense of optimism about the university’s future.” The council added they feel “entitled to a full and candid explanation of this sudden and drastic change in university leadership.”
In wake of such a shocking announcement and the end of the University’s first-ever female president’s term, many in the University and Charlottesville community seek further explanation.