CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBSDC/AP) — Leaders of the University of Virginia’s Faculty Senate said Monday they were blindsided by the Board of Visitors’ decision to remove President Teresa Sullivan and that they will investigate the matter.
The board surprised the campus on Sunday when it announced that Sullivan will step down Aug. 15, two years after taking over as the eighth president at the university founded in 1819 by Thomas Jefferson. In a statement, Sullivan attributed the move to “a philosophical difference of opinion” while Board of Visitors Rector Helen E. Dragas cited 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.”
The university said the board and Sullivan “mutually agreed” on her departure.
In its statement Monday, the Faculty Senate called the board’s statement “inadequate and unsatisfactory.”
“As elected representatives of the faculty, we are entitled to a full and candid explanation of this sudden and drastic change in University leadership,” the statement by the Faculty Senate’s executive council read. “We intend to investigate this matter thoroughly and expeditiously, and will meet with the Board as soon as possible.
“The Faculty Senate will continue to gather and give voice to faculty views and do all we can to preserve and protect strong faculty governance at the University.”
The group, chaired by U.Va. law professor George Cohen, said its executive council worked effectively with Sullivan, who turns 63 next month. They also said they were impressed by her leadership.
The council acknowledged that U.Va. and most comparable public institutions face similar challenges, including declining state funding. But the statement also said that Sullivan made “meaningful progress toward meeting these challenges,” including making hiring and policy decisions to advance the university.
“We are determined and committed that Mr. Jefferson’s University will continue to be a beacon of excellence, honor, and compassion in a troubled world,” the group said.
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