The University of Virginia's popular president is back. Teresa Sullivan was re-instated Tuesday, capping a tumultuous month for Virginia's flagship university.
The unanimous 15-0 vote by the Board of Visitors marked a full reversal following an ugly attempt, previously, at forcing Sullivan out.
At the moment Teresa Sullivan emerged from the Rotunda -her presidency no longer on life support- it seemed fitting on these Grounds that she would quote Thomas Jefferson.
"It is pleasant for those who have just escaped threatened shipwreck to hail one another when landed in unexpected safety," Sullivan said to laughter and smiles.
Sullivan's reinstatement was greeted with an eruption of cheers, and in some cases more than that.
"I am so excited, and happy. I'm gonna tear up again," said student Suzie McCarthy.
"I think what she stands for is transparency...which has been the buzzword of the movement," said alumna Beth Molmen.
Sullivan was ousted by the board -led by Rector Helen Dragas- nearly three weeks ago in a forced, would-be transition that failed spectacularly. But Sullivan, who came dressed in school colors, told a crowd of enthusiastic supporters that she -and they- should hold no hostilities against those who wanted her out, only to vote her back in.
"This is not a sign of weakness on their part, but a sign of strength and deliberation, and a good example to each of us," Sullivan said.
Dragas, who called the past three weeks a "near death experience" for UVA, apologized for the way the failed ouster was handled. A re-energized Sullivan later expressed a willingness to work together.
"I'm very grateful for the people who have expressed support and all the ways they expressed it," Sullivan told reporters after her remarks.
It's Dragas whose future is now in question. She's up for re-appointment to the Board of Visitors. That'll be Gov. Bob McDonnell's decision, and he's said he'll make an announcement on that before the end of the month.
Earlier, McDonnell had told the Board of Visitors to resolve the Sullivan issue one way or another by Tuesday or face resignation. Members completed the unanimous vote in less than 30 minutes.
Sullivan became the university's first female president in August 2010, but was ousted in a surprising move on June 10. The decision led to three high-profile resignations from the university, a number of student and alumni protests and widespread criticism of the university's handling of the leadership change.
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