Shouts of "UVA, UVA" went up when recently ousted President Teresa Sullivan appeared before the marble steps of the Rotunda.
An estimated crowd of 2,000 to 3,000 greeted the Board of Visitors today at its meeting to name an interim president. Board members had to endure a phalanx of people carrying signs that objected to their firing of Sullivan.
In contrast, Sullivan got an outpouring of emotion and enthusiasm from the assembled multitude.
Rector Helen Dragas, whom many see as the engineer of the current coup debacle, was 17 to 18 minutes late to the 3pm meeting. At 3:16pm a reporter asked UVA spokeswoman Carol Wood where the rector was. "I don't know," responded Wood.
When Dragas finally showed up, she read a statement that many of those standing outside the Rotunda perhaps hoped would be her resignation from the board. Instead, they got defiance, as Dragas expressed regret for the turmoil of the week but not the ouster.
"We recognize that, while genuinely well-intended to protect the dignity of all parties, our actions too readily lent themselves to perceptions of being opaque and not in keeping with the honored traditions of this University," said Dragas.
"This is all to say that there is not one single person on earth whose interests we would ever put above those of the thousands of stakeholders entrusted to our care," she read. "Not one President, not one administrator, not one faculty member, and certainly not one donor."
As reported in the Hook, billionaire hedge fund manager Paul Tudor Jones was one of two "important alums" who'd been working with Dragas on ousting Sullivan– something sources say was linked to a potential nine-figure-donation from Jones. That behind-the-scenes and under-the-radar maneuvering was first revealed in a letter sent by former Darden Foundation chair Peter Kiernan, who has resigned amid the uproar.
Following Dragas' statement, the board went into super-executive session, one so secret that even the notetakers aren't allowed.
Teresa Sullivan spoke publicly for the first time since her June 10 forced resignation, thanking her supporters and receiving ardent cheers. As she departed the Rotunda, the crowd, some in tears, parted to make way for the smiling Sullivan, and students, standing arm in arm on the Rotunda steps, sang The Good Old Song.
Alas, at UVA, it may be some time still before all is "bright and gay" again.