Thomas Jefferson’s University of Virginia

Well, well, they sure have made a mess of things up north (I love that Virginia is actually up north for me now). The UVA Board of Rectors fired the university’s president, Teresa Sullivan, just two years into her tenure. This seems to have come as a surprise to her and a whole bunch of other folks. For starters, that’s not a good thing. The initial statement the Board released didn’t provide much clarity about why this drastic step had been taken. They wrote something like they hoped the next president would be strategic. And then Sullivan’s detailed strategic plan that she had written for the Board was released. So maybe that wasn’t the real reason after all. Everyone is left to speculate and that’s never a good thing. Being a college president is a difficult enough job to begin with, but when the communication between a president and his/her Board is non-existent, as it appears to have been at UVA, the job becomes impossible.

The Faculty Senate at UVA asked for and was granted a meeting with Rector Dragas. Some hope for reconciliation? It appears not. After the meeting, the faculty asked for Sullivan’s reinstatement and the resignation of Dragas and her vice-chair. I guess they didn’t much like what they heard. One of the things that amazes me in all this is that the Board apparently never actually convened and voted on such an important matter. Dragas privately engineered all this and then announced that the Board had unanimously accepted Sullivan[‘s resignation. Wow!

Here’s my guess as to how this will all turn out. Sullivan will walk away with a decent severance package and Dragas will resign as Rector. I can’t see Sullivan deciding to stay and work with this Board, even if she was offered the opportunity, and I can’t imagine Dragas surviving this massively mishandled mess. Stay tuned.

Lawrence M. Schall


Oglethorpe University

4484 Peachtree Road NE

Atlanta GA 30319

o. 404.364.8319

f. 404.364.8324

Make a life. Make a living. Make a difference.

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One Response to Thomas Jefferson’s University of Virginia

  1. Bill Aitken '64 says:

    Sound interpretation of many of us ‘up here’ in Virginia. Appointment (by Governors) to college and university Boards of Visitors (Trustees) is so politicized in Virginia. One legal opinion is that the Governor lacks legal power to remove anyone, although he/she can ask for a resignation from these boards. So far Gov. McDonnell (himself with national political aspirations) has demured. TJ wrote his own epitath, in which he tells us he would like to be remembered for three things, the Declaration of Independence, the Statuate of Virginia for Religious Freedom, and as father of the University of Virginia. He would roll over at least three times in his grave at his beloved Monticello if he knew about this!

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