Gov. threatens U.Va. board: make decision on President or resign

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Governor Bob McDonnell threatened to ask for the resignation of U.Va.'s entire Board of Visitors, unless they come to a resolution over the university's ousted president immediately. The U.Va. board will meet next Tuesday to consider reinstating Teresa Sullivan, who was asked to resign earlier this month.

Until Friday, Governor McDonnell tried to stay on the outskirts of the debacle. However, he wrote a letter to the board saying that if they do not appoint a permanent president, Sullivan or not, they'll be out of a job.

"This needs to be brought to closure. We need finality. We need to have the settlement on the campus and the future direction and leadership has got to be resolved immediately," said McDonnell while at Liberty University in Lynchburg.

Governor McDonnell wrote in a letter to the Board of Visitors stating, "Let me be absolutely clear: I want final action by the Board on Tuesday. If you fail to do so, I will ask for the resignation of the entire Board on Wednesday."

The governor says he doesn't intend to tell the board of visitors how to vote next Tuesday, but that this situation must be resolved immediately. He also called the board's lack of an open and clear process in asking Sullivan to resign "deplorable."

Meantime, the interim U.Va. president appointed three days ago, Dean Carl Zeithaml, announced Friday afternoon that he's backing out of the position. Zeithaml says he's ending all activities associated with the interim president position, until the board decides the outcome over Sullivan once and for all.

"If the board decides to reinstate Sullivan, I will be happy to come back to the McIntire School and work on my syllabus for fall," said Dean Zeithaml.

University Rector Helen Dragas acknowledged Thursday that the board did "the right thing, in the wrong way." She described in a statement how the board and Sullivan couldn't agree on issues ranging from the university's tough financial problems, to its future in online education. Dragas responded to the governor's letter stating, "McDonnell is right that three meetings on this issue are enough, and we must get final resolution on this matter on Tuesday so the UVA family can move forward."

The university's accrediting agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools' Commission on Colleges, said it will be investigating the actions of the board, and the role of faculty in governing the school.

The controversy has broken a lot of trust at U.Va. among the higher-ups and faculty and students.

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