The University of Virginia announced Sunday that President Teresa A. Sullivan, in office for just under two years, will resign on August 15. The announcement shocked many at the university, with faculty leaders and prominent campus officials reporting that they had seen no sign of any imminent change in the works, and several said on background that they believed Sullivan had been doing an excellent job.
In a statement, Sullivan cited an unspecified "philosophical difference of opinion" with the board.
A statement from Helen Dragas, the rector (U.Va.'s title for board chair), praised Sullivan, but also suggested a board view that she was insufficiently bold. "[T]he 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," the statement said.
The statement continued by outlining the goal of being in "the top echelon" of universities. "To achieve these aspirations, 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. We need a leader with a great willingness to adapt the way we deliver our teaching, research, and patient care to the realities of the external environment. We need a leader who is able to passionately convey a vision to our community, and effectively obtain gifts and buy-in towards our collective goals."
Inside Higher Ed will have a full article on Sullivan's departure tomorrow morning.