UVA community continues push to reinstate ousted president - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

UVA community continues push to reinstate ousted president


The campaign continued Wednesday evening to reinstate UVA's ousted president.

Hundreds gathered on the Rotunda steps for a vigil to mourn the forced resignation of Teresa Sullivan. The faculty senate made it clear that they're not letting up in calling for UVA's first female president to retake her position, and for UVA Rector Helen Dragas, on the Board of Visitors, to resign.

Despite bursts of applause, emotion and anger were demonstrated quietly by the crowd, during moments of silence. George Cohen, the faculty senate chair, again implored the Board of Visitors to explain why they suddenly ousted their president.

"We have heard many words over the last week, but still we have no answer to the simple question, ‘Why did this happen?' Until we get those answers, there will be no healing," said Cohen to the gathering of students and faculty.

Cohen also said that the faculty senate was discussing a push to restructure the Board of Visitors, perhaps adding a faculty member and more oversight.

Reports have swirled of differences over online education and finances between Sullivan and the other higher-ups. However, the Board has yet to give clear reasons publicly.

"It's one thing to dismiss a president for concrete reasons, but ‘philosophical differences?' (citing Sullivan's reason for her resignation)… It's just not a good enough answer for us," said Abby Heider, a UVA student angered by the recent controversy.

Many upset by the resignation accuse the Board of not being transparent in how they handled the matter.

"Regardless of whether you feel she (Sullivan) was doing a good job or not, the process is worrisome," said UVA Professor Susan Pollart.

"I think people are just really shocked that this community of trust is just broken," said UVA student Amelie D'Urso.

UVA's newly appointed interim president, Dean Carl Zeithaml, said today that he wants to rebuild that trust, and move the university forward.

"We have to unite ourselves," Zeithaml said to a packed room of faculty and reporters in an afternoon conference.

Zeithaml also says he won't take the position permanently and doesn't support the Board's decision to force Sullivan out. He also spoke of taking UVA online to cut costs, an issue that may have been central to this entire controversy.

Another protest will happen this Sunday at the UVA Rotunda at 2 p.m. The faculty senate has also set up a Facebook page in support of reinstating Sullivan.

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