Post: Sullivan Canned for Not Cutting Spending

Just a week after Teresa Sullivan abruptly announced her resignation, details are tumbling out now. The latest dump of information comes from Daniel de Vise and Anita Kumar at the Washington Post, from which we learn:

  • Rector Helen Dragas wanted to see Sullivan make big cuts, eliminating some programs entirely, which Sullivan would not do. In the big-picture sense, Dragas thinks UVA needs a president who is more like a Fortune 500 CEO.
  • Dragas’ campaign to push out Sullivan began last October, working with vice rector Mark Kington and Darden’s Peter Kiernan.
  • Sullivan was given a verbal performance evaluation by Dragas and Kington in November, in which she was told that she was doing a good job, but needed to do better.
  • When Sullivan was forced to quit, a week ago Friday, it was by Dragas and Kington making a surprise visit to Madison Hall, where they told her that they had fifteen votes (all but one member of the Board of Visitors) to remove her; Sullivan was speechless.
  • Dragas instructed Sullivan to move out of Carr’s Hill by the end of July, rather than by her last day, August 15.
  • Sullivan has lawyered up.
  • Sullivan will be addressing the BOV on Monday, but they’re only willing to hear from her if the meeting is private.

Many people (myself included) assumed that Sullivan was being brought in precisely for the purpose of cutting spending. That, in the face of a bad economy, her role would be to eliminate departments, lay people off, and generally make enemies for the sake of financial stability. Then, after a few years went by and the economy rebounded, she’d move on, and the BOV could hire a long-term president. Obviously, that proved to be the opposite of Sullivan’s plan.

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