The momentum of the Dragas vs. Sullivan power struggle shifted decidedly to President Teresa Sullivan’s advantage this afternoon, after a day of small victories for her was capped off by news that a Board of Visitors meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday afternoon. First came word that ten of the eleven deans of the schools had signed a letter demanding the restoration of Sullivan to the presidency—the only non-signatory was McIntire Dean Carl Zeithaml, who wasn’t asked to sign, what with his position as kinda-sorta-interim president. (“Relationship status: it’s complicated.”) Then President Sullivan issued a statement calling for civility, the first communication from her since all of this went down, the real purpose of which seems to have been to remind people that she’s still president.
Finally, the big news of the day came out just a few minutes before 5 PM—at the last possible moment—that a special meeting of the Board of Visitors is scheduled for 3 PM on Tuesday, with a topic of “possible changes in the terms of employment of the President.” It was clear this morning that a board coup against Dragas was underway, with at least three members prepared to call for a meeting (the necessary number), but they wouldn’t want to have called that meeting unless they knew that they had a majority of the board in support of restoring Sullivan to the presidency. Implicitly, calling this meeting means that they’ve got the votes. This came at the end of a long day of vocal rabble-rousing by Sullivan supporters in the community, who have been organizing on the “United4Honor” Facebook group to get people to call and write the BOV and the governor, to embolden members of the BOV to come out as Sullivan supporters.
Another small bit of news today came in the form of a letter to the Cavalier Daily from BOV member Glynn Key. You’ll remember Key for having left the board’s marathon late-night session on Monday night/Tuesday morning. It hasn’t been clear why Key left, or whether she supported or opposed the coup against Sullivan. In the letter, she writes:
It would be personally convenient and gratifying if I described what happened in Executive Session, in order to explain to you why I departed at 1:30 am. But you know that it would be improper and dishonorable for me to breach the confidentiality requirements for Executive Session.
At a minimum, we now know that she left in protest of something occurring in that meeting. A think that a reasonable person reading this would conclude that she did not support the ouster of Sullivan, and her premature departure was tied to that.
There is still a rally scheduled for 2 PM on Sunday afternoon, which will now surely be infused with a level of enthusiasm—and probably attendance—not yet seen in this multi-week showdown.