Local: Education

U.Va.'s chief operating officer resigns

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Local,Education,Lisa Gartner

The chief operating officer of the University of Virginia resigned Tuesday, the latest aftershock of a failed attempt to oust President Teresa Sullivan.

In a statement, Sullivan said Michael Strine "recently determined that it would be in the best interest of the university that he step down and allow me to do some necessary restructuring."

Officials at Virginia's flagship university announced June 10 that Sullivan would resign in August, creating a backlash among university students and staff who did not understand why Sullivan was being forced to step down. Board Rector Helen Dragas said the university was too slow to address state and federal funding reductions, as well as online education.

After widespread protests, Sullivan was reinstated on June 26.

Emails released to reporters through open records laws show that Dragas and her vice rector, Mark Kington, had discussions with Strine and Provost John Simon regarding the university's finances and lagging online education.

Kington resigned June 19, while Strine remained silent except for a joint statement with Simon supporting Sullivan's reinstatement.

On Tuesday, Sullivan said Strine had said to her, "Though it is hard to step aside, I am confident that this step helps the university and those it serves by allowing this board and president the opportunity to pursue changes aimed at ensuring communication, accountability and shared governance.'"

Strine also served as the school's executive vice president. He came to U.Va. 13 months ago, after serving as the chief financial officer and treasurer at Johns Hopkins University.

The Washington Examiner reported on Sunday that the U.Va. board spent more than $125,000 over the past year on food and travel, two to three times more than comparably sized Virginia colleges.

On the day the board gathered to address the backlash against Sullivan's ouster and to reinstate the president, they munched on $414 worth of gourmet cookies, fruit and fair-trade coffee.

Sullivan did not say when she would name Strine's replacement, but that she intended to start a national search.

"I know that [Strine's] leadership skills and commitment to higher education will bring him success in his future pursuits," she said.

lgartner@washingtonexaminer.com

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