Teresa Sullivan walks up to the Board of Visitors meeting at University of Virginia to hear whether or not she'll be reinstated as President
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WUSA) - The University of Virginia's governing board reinstated Teresa Sullivan, who was ousted as president without a vote several weeks ago.
It was a unanimous vote of 15 members of the Board of Visitors to reinstate Sullivan. They were called to a special meeting at 3 p.m. Tuesday in the university's historic Rotunda. Outside, Faculty, students and others held a demonstration to show their support for the popular president.
Chair of the Faculty Senate George Cohen stood on the steps of the Rotunda and said to the crowd that removing Teresa Sullivan was "an error in judgement and inconsistent with the principals of President Teresa Sullivan and UVA." He said it was done in secret and without the support of the full board.
Minutes before the meeting, Sullivan and board Rector Helen Dragas walked in together, showing that there was a reconciliation.
At the meeting, which was filled with press people surrounding the board, Dragas apologized to the UVA community saying "we simple did not give adequate context to and reasoning behind our thinking and the concerns we had about the direction of the University that led us to take the action that we did."
She added, "I sincerely apologize for the way this was presented , and you served better."
Board member Heywood Fralin made the motion to reinstate Sullivan but first gave a statement where he explained in part how the decision was made, though he was against it.
Fralin said, "It is clear that every member knew that the Rector and the Vice-Rector intended to meet with President Sullivan to ask for her resignation. I was not clever enough at the time to confer with other members to determine if three would be willing to call a special meeting of the Board of Visitors to discuss such action. I am confident there would have been three willing members and that if such a meeting had been called, a vigorous discussion would have ensued."
After the vote, Sullivan addressed the adoring crowd saying that this was "not time for residual hostility towards anyone perceived to have been on the other side of recent disagreements. " She said she was "grateful to the Visitors for this renewed opportunity." She said, "We have problems at UVA - all of higher education does. We are in crisis, but change appropriate to our mission is necessary. "
Sullivan said: "I am not good enough, or strong enough to do everything that needs doing at UVA on my own, but you have shown beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am not alone."
Sullivan became U.Va.'s eighth president, and its first female leader, in August 2010. Board Rector Helen Dragas announced June 10 that Sullivan would step down Aug. 15, and has since said Sullivan wasn't acting quickly enough to address funding reductions and other strategic challenges.
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Sullivan's abrupt firing triggered mass protests and calls by deans, faculty, students and alumni for the board to return her to office.