Have you read about the University of Virginia president, Teresa A. Sullivan, who was forced out from the university only to then be reinstated this past Tuesday as the university’s president? It’s quite the unusual story and it all stems from an overzealous board of trustees at UVA. Ms. Sullivan was removed as UVA’s president earlier this month without even a vote. And for what reason? Not really any reason at all! In fact, the reasons for her ouster cited by the board were so vague that they could apply to the economy as much as they could apply to an individual (i.e., the school needs to delve into online education). So, too, do many schools. It’s not exactly a reason to oust a sitting university president!
The ouster led to the governor of Virginia, a man who appointed half of the rectors to the board in the first place, vowing to replace them if they didn’t vote to reinstate her this past Tuesday. According to “USA Today’s” article on the UVA president’s ouster, “Rector Helen Dragas was central to the initial move to oust the president.” According to “The Associated Press, she was “convinced the university would emerge stronger after the controversy and reiterated an apology for the way the matter was handled initially. ‘The situation became enormously dramatized and emotionally charged,’ she said. ‘I sincerely apologize for the way this was presented and you deserve better. I believe real progress is more possible than ever now,’ Dragas said before the vote. ‘It is unfortunate that we had to have a near death experience to get here.’”
We are calling on the resignation of Rector Helen Dragas for firing a university president without being able to cite a specific rational for her drastic move. It’s bad press for UVA. It would have made it difficult to recruit a new president after such a ridiculous move by the board. And it’s just plain wrong. Good for UVA to reinstate its president but shame on the board of trustees for overreaching. Helen Dragas should resign from the board of trustees at Thomas Jefferson’s university immediately.