UVA President Steps Down

Statement says Teresa Sullivan, Board of Visitors 'mutually agreed' to part ways

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    NEWSLETTERS

    National Geographic/Getty Images

    University of Virginia President Teresa A. Sullivan will leave her position effective August 15, the university announced Sunday.

    In an email sent by University Rector Helen Dragas and Vice Rector Mark Kington to students, alumni, and staff, it was confirmed that Sullivan and the university's Board of Visitors had "mutually agreed" that Sullivan would step down.

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

    Dragas expanded on her email in remarks that were delivered to the University's Vice Presidents and Deans Sunday, a portion of which are quoted below.

    The Board feels strongly and overwhelmingly that we need bold and proactive leadership on tackling the difficult issues that we face. The pace of change in higher education and in health care has accelerated greatly in the last two years. 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. We see no bright lights on the financial horizon as we face limits on tuition increases, an environment of declining federal support, state support that will be flat at best, and pressures on health care payors ... the Board feels the need for a bold leader who can help develop, articulate, and implement a concrete and achievable strategic plan to re-elevate the University to its highest potential.

    Dragas quoted Sullivan in her email as 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."

    Sullivan was elected to her position in January 2010, having previously served as the Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of Michigan. She was the eighth President of the University, and the first woman to hold the post.

    Below is the full text of the email sent by Dragas.

    On behalf of the Board of Visitors, we are writing to tell you that the Board and President Teresa Sullivan today mutually agreed that she will step down as president of the University of Virginia effective August 15, 2012.

    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.

    President Sullivan commented on the great honor to serve as President of the University of Virginia. She 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. 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 remain guided by Mr. Jefferson’s inspirational vision:

    "The great object of our aim from the beginning has been to make this Establishment the most eminent in the United States."

    In service to that vision, the Board is committed to preserving the legacy with which we have been entrusted. At the core of that legacy is the quality and care of our faculty and staff. We have made a clear choice to act in the best interest of all concerned.

    We assure you that the Board of Visitors will move expeditiously to name an interim president and to begin a search for a new leader. We hope you will assist us as we move through this time of change and strive for a smooth and productive transition.

    On behalf of the Board of Visitors,

    Helen E. Dragas, Rector
    Mark Kington, Vice Rector