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U.Va. board may consider reinstating president

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Photo - Charlottesville resident Susan Seidler holds aloft a sign in support of ousted University of Virginia President Sullivan at a silent vigil. (AP Photo)
Charlottesville resident Susan Seidler holds aloft a sign in support of ousted University of Virginia President Sullivan at a silent vigil. (AP Photo)
Local,Virginia,Education,Steve Contorno

Facing pressure from students, faculty and staff to reinstate ousted University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan, the school's governing body on Thursday agreed to meet next week to reconsider its decision.

Twelve days after the Board of Visitors announced that Sullivan was out just two years into her tenure, it now appears there may be enough support on the board to reverse that decision in hopes of reuniting the campus.

The public won't be allowed to comment at next Tuesday's meeting, at which much of the discussion will likely occur behind closed doors.

The change of course by the board was made possible, in part, by the resignation of the board's No. 2 member, Vice Rector Mark Kington, who was instrumental in organizing opposition to Sullivan. His departure left the board with 15 members, meaning eight votes will reinstate Sullivan.

Sullivan backers, led by board member Heywood Fralin, have been pushing for next week's meeting in hopes of reinstating Sullivan.

But Rector Helen Dragas, who spearheaded the effort to oust Sullivan and is facing calls for her own resignation, issued an empathic defense of that decision late Thursday. It included 10 reasons the board sought new leadership, including a lack of long-term vision, an insufficient funding model, and a failure to introduce new technology into the classroom.

"These challenges represent some very high hurdles that stand in the way of our University's path to continued success in the coming decade," she said.

McIntire School of Commerce Dean Carl Zeithaml was appointed Tuesday as a temporary replacement for Sullivan and met with the Faculty Senate on Thursday. Immediately after the meeting, the faculty issued a statement calling for Sullivan's reinstatement and Dragas' resignation.

In a rare show of unity between the faculty and administrators, the university's deans and school librarian also called for Sullivan's return.

Dragas' term ends July 1, and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell has not indicated whether he will reappoint her to another four years.

Sullivan on Thursday called for civil discourse among the various campus factions.

"The Board of Visitors is made up of dedicated volunteers, and abusive behavior toward them or anyone else is destructive of our community's values," she said.

scontorno@washingtonexaminer.com

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