This will be fascinating to observe, regarding what comes out. I don't recall any press reports about public disputes or "differences". Was there evidence that she wanted to take the school in some significantly different direction, for example?
Nevertheless, the Board feels strongly and overwhelmingly that we need bold and proactive leadership on tackling the difficult issues that we face. The pace of change in higher education and in health care has accelerated greatly in the last two years.* We have calls internally for resolution of tough financial issues that require hard decisions on resource allocation. The compensation of our valued faculty and staff has continued to decline in real terms, and we acknowledge the tremendous task ahead of making star hires to fill the many spots that will be vacated over the next few years as our eminent faculty members retire in great numbers. These challenges are truly an existential threat to the greatness of UVA.
This decision, it would appear, has been driven primarily by "philosophical differences in opinion" revolving around finances. I truly have no clue about the financial operations of large public research institutes. I am curious, though, if there are other publics (or I suppose privates for that matter) who are similar to UVA that are weathering these difficult times with greater efficiency/success. If so, what are they doing differently that might serve as a model?
My impression was that President Sullivan was popular among the staff and students. She had a huge role in successfully running a much larger University of Michigan before she came to UVa.
According to the press release, she wasn't willing to change as much or as fast as the Board wanted.
"The Board believes this environment calls for a much faster pace of change in administrative structure, in governance, in financial resource development and in resource prioritization and allocation. We do not believe we can even maintain our current standard under a model of incremental, marginal change. The world is simply moving too fast."
This is ironic considering the old joke:
"How many Virginians does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Six - one to change it, and five to complain how much better the old one was."
I've checked in with a couple people, and they are shocked and "blindsided", including one person who should have known if there was a conflict, but did not.
Donations to the U. are up from last year.
I'm guessing it had to do with McDonnell-appointed Boardmembers who wanted more of a market-based approach. One of those boardmembers is Pat Robertson's son, while a couple others are land developers and owners of large amounts of real estate. Sullivan was appointed by former boardmembers appointed by Gov. Kaine.
Some of these boardmembers want more variation in tuition among programs based upon demand.
Some apparently want to get rid of need-blind admissions and meeting financial need for out of state students. The U. did a consulting study on financial aid and so far it is not recommending any major changes, according to the meeting minutes that have been released so far.
There is also a move to have each department stand on its own, as far as financing.
In addition, the Board talks about spending money to recruit "rock star" professors
Charlie -- with all due respect, let's get some additional information before wildly speculating on "political motives" for this surprising turn of events. I too am surprised and saddened by the turn of events, because in meeting Mrs. Sullivan on several occasions I found her smart, sincere, and a welcome new perspective. That said, I have not evaluated her on matters other than those of concern to a parent.
As I recall, though I am not going back to research this, the Rector and Vice Rector are appointees of Mark Warner -- a Democrat. There has been nothing said so far that suggests politics is behind this. Gov. McDonnell issued a statement today highly supportive of Teresa Sullivan.
I find it out of line for you, who has chosen NOT to live in VA, to time and time again comment disparagingly on this board about politics in the Commonwealth. If you don't like the current situation, either move here and vote accordingly or severe your ties. Sitting in PA shooting spitballs, is neither becoming to you nor beneficial to our state or The University.
The Chronicle of Higher Education has an article posted on this subject. Here was one of the comments, which sounds plausible to me:
"My read of the Board's comments is that they expected Sullivan to cut deeply into various parts of the budget, to tackle the (admittedly rather fossilized) administrative hierarchy, and to cheerfully accept many more students... in-person *and* online (something on which I have commented quite a lot, recently!). One must bear in mind that some VA schools like Liberty University are faring very well with their online ventures, so perhaps UVa's Board is unable to see why UVa is so reluctant to jump headfirst into online education.... "
Note - that the two Universities in Va. that offer huge numbers of online-only classes are Regent University (Pat Robertson and law school alma of the Gov) and Liberty University (Jerry Falwell).
Also I believe that UVa did not increase the enrollment of this year's entering first year class. The stated policy had been that enrollment would increase each year to meet the Governor's goals - assuming the state provided compensating revenues for the additional students. I'm guessing that the U. didn't feel the state was coming through on their part of the bargain, so they put the enrollment increase on hold for at least one year.
Article above interviews officials who were shocked and surprised by the decision - and didn't see it coming.
Her husband is now a UVa Law prof - so she may stay around Cville.
IF she really did need to be replaced, it is bad that the Board didn't let her leave with dignity. She could have been allowed to announce that she would retire on her own at the end of the year (she is around 63). That would have allowed time for a smooth transition with the next President. Instead, she is being shoved out the door, and is just using her vacation time until she officially leaves.