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UVA's President From Ouster to Reinstatement: Timeline

Following is a timeline of Teresa Sullivan’s forced resignation and reinstatement as president of the University of Virginia, based in Charlottesville.

May 4 - Early June: Rector Helen Dragas and Vice Rector Mark Kington, leaders of UVA’s Board of Visitors, begin an e-mail exchange expressing concern over the school’s ability to keep up in online higher education. The e-mails include a series of shared links to stories about online classroom programs, including Harvard and MIT’s EdX.

June 3: Jeffrey C. Walker, a member of the board of trustees of the McIntire School of Commerce Foundation, sends Kington an e-mail stressing the need to expand online. Dragas, 50, thanks Walker for the e-mail, writing that the board is “keenly aware of the rapidly accelerating pace of change.”

June 7: Dragas e-mails UVA President Teresa Sullivan, 62, asking for a meeting.

June 8: Sullivan, the university’s first female president, replies to Dragas’ e-mail, asking if there is anything she ought to prepare for the meeting.

June 10: A statement on UVA’s website announces that Sullivan will step down Aug. 15 due to a “philosophical difference of opinion” with the Board of Visitors. Dragas says the school needs “bold and proactive leadership” as higher education rapidly evolves.

June 11: The Faculty Senate Executive Council issues a statement questioning the board’s decision to seek Sullivan’s resignation.

June 12: Dragas and Kington privately contact Carl Zeithaml, dean of the McIntire School of Commerce, about whether he would be interested in becoming University president. He gives an “unequivocal” no, but says he will consider stepping in as interim.

June 14: Faculty Senate leaders approve a resolution supporting Sullivan and expressing a lack of confidence in Dragas, Kington and the Board of Visitors. Dragas issues an invitation to meet with the Faculty Senate.

June 14: Peter Kiernan, chairman of the Darden School (UVA’s business school) Foundation Board of Trustees, resigns. He apologizes for an e-mail he sent that suggested he might have discussed the search for a replacement president with alumni before Sullivan was asked to resign.

June 17: At a meeting of about 500 faculty members, Provost John Simon questions the honor and integrity of the university and suggests that he might resign over Sullivan’s ouster.

June 17: Paul Tudor Jones II, a 1976 UVA graduate and one of the university’s top donors, criticizes Sullivan for not acting proactively enough as president in an opinion piece in Charlottesville’s Daily Progress newspaper.

June 18: Dragas and Kington are asked to resign by the Faculty Senate Executive Council, which calls for Sullivan’s reinstatement. Thousands of students and faculty members gather in support of Sullivan outside of an afternoon board meeting.

June 19: Zeithaml is named Sullivan’s interim successor by the board in an e-mailed statement. Vice Rector Kington resigns, saying he hoped the move could bring “a needed healing process” to the university.

June 19: The university releases the series of e-mails between Dragas, Kington and the Board of Visitors from May and June in response to a freedom-of-information-act request.

June 20: The Faculty Senate releases a statement supporting Kington’s resignation and renewing its call for Dragas to resign.

June 20: Zeithmal holds a 3 p.m. press conference to discuss his appointment. He says he didn’t support the board’s action, but has agreed to become interim president out of loyalty to the university and with Simon’s promise to stay on as provost to help him.

June 20: The Faculty Senate holds a 5 p.m. silent vigil in support of Sullivan’s reinstatement on the steps of the Rotunda.

June 22: Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell tells the Board of Visitors to act decisively to end the furor over Sullivan’s ouster at their June 26 meeting or he’ll seek the resignations of all its members.

June 26: The board votes unanimously to reinstate Sullivan as president. It also expresses a vote of confidence in Rector Dragas, who apologizes for the way the situation was handled. Sullivan pledges “to set aside any differences we might have, and to work hand-in-hand” with Dragas and the rest of the board to move the university forward.

July 1: Dragas’s term as rector comes up for renewal before Governor McDonnell.

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