WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (June 11-17, 2012)

GOVERNANCE

University of Virginia president to step down.” By Daniel de Vise, Jenna Johnson and Anita Kumar. Washington Post. June 10, 2012. The University of Virginia’s first female president, Teresa Sullivan, will step down this summer after just two years on the job because of an apparently abrupt rift between her and the school’s governing board over the direction of one of the nation’s premier public universities. The announcement Sunday shocked the university community and signaled potential hard times ahead for the flagship university, an institution founded by Thomas Jefferson and unaccustomed to instability. The previous president, John T. Casteen, stayed for 20 years. When she exits on Aug. 15, Sullivan will have served two years and two weeks, the shortest presidential tenure in the school’s history. Sullivan attributed her departure to “a philosophical difference of opinion” between herself and U-Va.’s governing board of visitors. It was unclear when the rift began, but its existence surprised the Charlottesville community. The disagreement may be rooted in money. Helen Dragas, who chairs the board, portrayed an institution facing “an existential threat” from the combined effects of an economic downturn, state disinvestment and looming faculty departures. She faulted Sullivan’s administration for a culture of “incremental, marginal change” and said the institution needs a leader more adaptable to “the realities of the external environment.” The U-Va. board “feels strongly and overwhelmingly that we need bold and proactive leadership on tackling the difficult issues that we face,” Dragas said, including “hard decisions” on spending. The board presumably concluded Sullivan was not that leader. Sullivan is widely popular among university faculty and students. Some pressed Sunday for more details than the governing board was willing to provide.
Related stories:
U-Va. board ouster of President Teresa Sullivan sparks anger.” Washington Post. June 11, 2012.
U-Va. president’s ouster puts spotlight on governing board.” Washington Post. June 12, 2012.
Board to Meet With Faculty Over Ouster of President.” New York Times. June 13, 2012.
Three members of U-Va. board were kept in dark about effort to oust Sullivan.” Washington Post. June 14, 2012.
U-Va. board leader wanted Teresa Sullivan to make cuts.” Washington Post. June 16, 2012.
Leadership drama consumes U-Va.; board names Zeithaml interim president.” Washington Post. June 19, 2012.

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