CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — University of Virginia President Teresa A. Sullivan, the first woman to lead U.Va., will resign in a mutual parting announced Sunday.
Sullivan will step down Aug. 15, two years after she succeeded John Casteen, who retired after 20 years as head of the university founded in 1819 by Thomas Jefferson. She is U.Va.'s eighth president.
"It's been a great honor to serve as president of the University of Virginia," Sullivan said in a statement. "Although the board and I have a philosophical difference of opinion, I will always treasure having had the opportunity to work with so many gifted faculty and staff, talented students and loyal alumni."
Rector Helen E. Dragas said the board had discussions over the past year with Sullivan about the importance of developing, articulating and acting on a clear strategic vision.
In a statement prepared for release at a news conference on campus Sunday, Dragas said Sullivan and the board agreed Saturday that she would step down. The university said they "mutually agreed" on her departure.
Dragas said the university needs to address the changing higher education landscape and, within U.Va., "tough financial issues that require hard decisions on resource allocation."
"We want UVA to remain in that top echelon of universities well into the 21st century and beyond," Dragas said.
"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."
In a statement, Gov. Bob McDonnell extended his gratitude to Sullivan.
"Through her leadership, Virginia added nearly 1,000 new student slots and recently enacted the lowest yearly tuition increase in over a decade," McDonnell said.
The board said it would move swiftly to name an interim president and begin the search for a new leader.
Before coming to Charlottesville, Sullivan served a four-year term as provost of the University of Michigan, and prior to that held several administrative and academic positions at the University of Texas.
In an interview with reporters after her inauguration in August 2010, Sullivan said her initial priorities included examining U.Va.'s internal budgeting process to better predict funding and the university's overall revenue structure amid dwindling state funding. She also expressed concerns about retaining faculty who haven't had pay raises in several years.
"The best faculty members are free agents," she said. "We will do our best to convince them that U.Va. is the best place for them to further their careers."
Sullivan acknowledged her role as the first female president at Virginia, which didn't admit its first class of undergraduate women until 1970. Still, she said, she had the experience of being the first woman in academic positions through her career.
"I understand how it's deeply symbolic to lots of people, and I'm appreciative of that," she said.
Sullivan had a five-year contract with a compensation package not to exceed $680,000 annually.
Sullivan, who grew up in Little Rock, Ark., and Jackson, Miss., earned her undergraduate degree at Michigan State University. She earned her master's and doctorate degrees in sociology from the University of Chicago and is known as a leading scholar in labor-force demography. Before becoming Michigan's provost, Sullivan served in various administrative and teaching positions at Texas, with her most recent position there as executive vice chancellor for academic affairs from 2002-2006.
As provost, Sullivan also serves as the University of Michigan's chief budget officer.
The University of Virginia's President's Page: http://www.virginia.edu/president/