Amid Much Criticism Over Ouster, UVA Reinstates School President

The University of Virginia has had a rocky few weeks. Just over two weeks ago, the school's board voted to oust UVA President Teresa Sullivan "plung[ing] the state flagship university into political chaos," the Washington Post reports. Indeed, current and former students, faculty, and others in the higher education and UVA communities protested loudly in response to the move, which Sullivan supporters characterized as motivated by the market-driven desires of the board. At least one UVA professor even quit in protest.

Now, in what is being called an unprecedented move, the board has reinstated Sullivan. Inside Higher Ed:

The University of Virginia Board of Visitors voted unanimously Tuesday to reinstate President Teresa Sullivan, capping off a tumultuous two weeks for the university.

The vote is an about-face for a board that, on June 10, announced that Sullivan was resigning, seemingly without dissent from board members.

Helen E. Dragas, the board's rector, or chair, identified by many as the instigator of Sullivan's resignation, said she had met with Sullivan prior to the meeting to resolve their differences. "It's time to bring the University family back together." She spoke after W. Heywood Fralin, who had been the lone board member to vote against the nomination of an interim replacement for Sullivan last week, offered a resolution that the board restore Sullivan to the presidency.

Sullivan spoke to the board following the vote. "I need to have your support," she said. "I need you to reach out to your networks around the commonwealth and the world to help us move forward."

TheWashington Postadds that the reversal, while welcomed by Sullivan's supporters, will not immediately solve the problems wrought by this month's events:

But the episode may leave lasting collateral damage. Thomas Jefferson’s university has lost wealthy donors, one Board of Visitors member and at least one star professor, computer scientist William Wulf, during the leadership crisis.

The board’s unanimous vote hid lingering rifts on the 15-member panel. It seemed improbable that U-Va. leaders had resolved their differences in a single day. There may be battles ahead over strategic plans, online education, budget cuts and other matters. Also unclear is whether Dragas will stay on the board. Her term ends Sunday, but she is eligible for reappointment, a question that faces Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R).

AlterNet / By Lauren Kelley

Posted at June 27, 2012, 6:17am