Sullivan appears: Pandemonium outside the Rotunda

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.

This story is a part of the The ousting of a president special.

76 comments

Hill and Knowlton wrote that speech for her, and sent the bill to a "UVa-affiliated foundation." Ka-ching!

Dragas was probably late because her PR firm was still working on her statement. Have to get those words just so, you know!

"Super-executive session" sounds like "super secret probation." Who is in charge, Dean Wormer??

"our actions too readily lent themselves to perceptions of being opaque."

George effing Orwell where are you when we need you. These weasel words are classic.

From the Hill & Knowlton speech: "We certainly never wished nor intended to ignite such a reaction from the community of trust and honor that we all love so dearly. 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."

Translation: we're not competent even to engineer a coup without having it explode in our faces, but shut up and go home and let us run this public university in the way that we see fit without bothering us to explain anything to you or involve you in any of the governance (shared governance? what is that?) of this public institution. It's our toy, and we don't feel like sharing it with you.

"Pandemonium"? I followed the entire thing on Twitter and no one indicated the crowd was unruly or chaotic. Please don't be so inflammatory -- the stakes are too high.

"The board went into super-executive session, one so secret that even the notetakers aren't allowed." Yep that's pretty "public university" all right. Do they do that at UCal? I bet not.

"Pandemonium"? -maybe they only meant "great noise.' In the looser sense- the night Nixon bombed Cambodia,or the night good old gov Mills Godwin set the state troopers loose on the Lawn -now that was real pandemonium, believe me-if you could duck into somebody's Lawn room, you were lucky...

Are you serious? "Super-executive session"??? This language is from the writer who flunked out of college!! There's a reason the hook's articles link to the real journists covering this story at the Progress and the Post.

I find The Hook's columns refreshing. If the reporter coined "super-executive session" (which I doubt - it sounds way too much like corporate speak), it is far better than the verb "to incent" that was apparently coined by Ms. Dragas.

Dragas: "We have heard your demands for a fuller explanation of this action. And while our answers may seem insufficient and poorly communicated, we have responded with the best we have to offer - the truth." So here it is, the truth. What you've all been waiting for: UVa is great and we all care a lot about it. Because of this, we will be sure to make sure everyone feels involved in the selection of an interim president.

There stands Dragas like a stone wall!

Hilarious that the malcontents protesting the BoV actually thought any of their outrageous demands would actually be met. The elitist faculty, clueless students, and lemming-like staff represent an axis-of-ignorance whose actions have brought great shame to Virginia. So proud of the BoV and Helen Dragas for refusing to be bullied or cowed by the hastily assembled mob outside the Rotunda. What a great day for the university.

"Pandemonium" is the capital of Hell in Milton's Paradise Lost, and if we still have a Classics Dept when this is all over, you could learn that it means, in Greek, 'a residence of all the demons'. Which may be overstating the case a little--most of the demons seem to have been in the Rotunda.

....and while we're tossing around literary allusions, @ Bartleby, we'd prefer that you not, also.

Bartleby--how long have you been working for Hill & Knowlton? Not long, huh?

Here's the thing that slays me: Dragas profoundly botched this whole thing. She wasn't able to pull it off without inflicting long-term damage on the university's reputation and its relationship with major donors (Hunter Smith and Jane Batten, anyone?). She's set up whoever comes in as interim or next president with an incredibly difficult job of taking over an incredibly pissed off faculty. It's a major fail in terms of the execution of her little plot, any way you look at it. Now, it's my understanding that in the Big Grown-Up World of Business (all hail our MBA-overlords), when someone monumentally f*cks up something this important, they lose their job. Incompetence is supposed to be rewarded. That's what we keep hearing from these Brooks Brothers narcissists, isn't it?

OH, WAIT: I keep forgetting. That's the load of bullsh1t they shovel down on the little people who serve them. It doesn't apply to them.

Re: "it is far better than the verb "to incent" that was apparently coined by Ms. Dragas."

"in·cent verb (used with object)

Example Sentences
The market doesn't pay people what they are worth and what they need to incent them to work."
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/incent

Bartleby: I'll say this to you and then proceed to ignore your posts.

The problem I and thousands of others who truly love this University does not center around President Sullivan and the job she was or was not doing or around Rector Dragas, as a person. It is with the way in which Dragas, the vice rector and a small clique of Visitors circumvented Virginia's Freedom of Information Act, meeting one on one with individual Visitors they thought would back their coup, outside of the light of day, where the public could be apprised of what was being done in its name.

It's a problem with how they acted ... dishonorably and untrustworthy of their colleagues and us, the citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Honor ... it's something we true sons (and daughters) of Virginia take pretty darn seriously.

Even if people like you don't.

MallWalker: Your online dictionary does indeed have "incent" in it. It also has "preventative" in it. Both are excrescences on the body of our language recently coined by those whose liberal education was so deficient that they could not use the English language properly. Of course, you may not realize this if all you do is walk through malls using your iPhone to access internet dictionaries. Perhaps a trip to Alderman and the OED is in order. Or is that just too old fashion??

I guess a top flight PR firm is worth something. Too bad Kiernan's email puts the lie to much of what she says!

She and her ilk must think we all are stunningly stupid and lacking in memory, honor, integrity, and trust.

To see her use those last three words to describe her coup is infuriating and heart breaking at the same time.

Do her mendacity, hubris, and duplicity know no bounds?

'or the night good old gov Mills Godwin set the state troopers loose on the Lawn -now that was real pandemonium, believe me-if you could duck into somebody's Lawn room, you were lucky...'

I want to hear more about this. What happened?

She sounds like Mubarak during his last days of denial. The Lawn has become the new Tahrir Square. LOL

actually, this sort of backstabbing, behind the veil, double secret manoeuvrings is the sort of thing state school boards and administration do on a daily basis.

@ jlanderson:

You stated it beautifully -- concise and spot-on.

Bartleby the asinine scribbler has been around for a few days now, fomenting melodramatic rhetoric, tossing off obscure references to movies from the 1970s and 80s, and generally making a jackass of himself. Without wasting too much thought on this little cretin, it is a safe bet he is an intern at Dragas' PR firm, trying to do some spin control -- and failing miserably.

If anything, the pro-Dragas commenters are only adding fuel to a fire that they can no longer control by pumping up the righteous indignation of the people of the University of Virginia who know in our hearts and in our minds -- absolutely -- that Dragas and her black magik and her co-conspirators are in the wrong. They are wrong. Every time that thin-lipped woman opens her mouth, the spew of bull$hit that issues from it only gets thicker.

This issue is not going away.

Bartleby is a paid stooge, or a fool troll, possibly both. and ultimately he is irrelevant. The more people like him post here and elsewhere, the stronger our resolve becomes.

Dragas is wasting money on a PR firm to "burnish her image." Her political career is over before it scarcely began, at least in Virginia. I will be working behind the scenes doing my utmost to ensure the woman never holds office again.

It just rankles me that some as-yet-unnamed UVA foundation is footing the bill for pricey PR flacks to help this idiot rector with a mess of her own making.

Will they clean up her image? Only ff they know how to polish a turd.

It will come out eventually (sooner rather than later, I think) which foundation is paying Hill & Knowlton's bill. Methinks it's coming out of Tudor Jones' pocket. And it really is sad to see how Hill & Knowlton is apparently hiring just about ANYONE these days, based on what we're seeing on this board.

Here we have it again. Helen Dragas lying again to all of US again. In her little tardy speech today, she spoke that: "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." That is a bunch of plain-old crap. Her BoV cohort in crime Jones admitted in his own op-ed to the "Daily Progress" that his interests are above those of the "stakeholders" are. She also failed to mention that the "stakeholders" are those of us that attend Uva, teach at UVa, work at UVa, and those in the community that love UVa. Apparently she is disillusioned that a "stakeholder" is solely her and her board cronies that have tons of money to play with. Dragas and her BoV all need to resign!

Full text of Dragas' comments & Sullivan's comments:

http://cvillenews.com/2012/06/18/dragas-sullivan-statements/#more-4084

Read them & decide who knows better.

Ms. Myer: Thank you for posting the link to the president's remarks. After reading them, I am all the sadder the University is losing her.

Before, I was somewhat ambivalent to her as a president; there just wasn't a track record there for me to base an opinion on.

But these remarks, and those reported last week week by another blogger recounting a talk she gave in a Cville church the morning the Dragon Rector was sliding the knife into her back, prove to me how unfortunate we are to lose someone of her stature AND her character.

As a follow-up, Ms. Myer: Here's a link to the blog I was telling you about. It's by a Darden faculty member. Honestly, reading it was what got me so fired up about the woman the University is losing.

http://erikahayesjames.com/blog/

Well, now we know just what sort of "Randian" zealot Sullivan is really up against. Sullivan seems to have resigned out of concern for causing a destructive power struggle if she did not. Dragas, however, has no such compunctions and without regard for the support or interests of faculty, staff, students, dissenting BOV members, tradition, honor, or common decency, she is pursuing her "vision."

She seems to have calculated - probably correctly - that no matter how much chaos she has caused, no matter how much destruction will lie in the wake of the ensuing battles, no matter how many law firms will be enriched by the years of suits and countersuits we'll now begin to see - SHE, Dargas, will be just fine.

The very worst that happens is that she is thrown out on her self-serving behind. And when that happens, there will be just enough people who will elevate her as the next new "mavericky" pol on the rise to make it all worth it - for her.
Please, people of Virginia - let's not let our memories lapse this time. Newt couldn't pull this off - the people finally remembered who he was, just in time. Let's not EVER forget, regardless of party affiliation or "tea-party" trendiness - who this Dargas really is, what she really cares about, and the hypocritical banner of "service" she waves.

When such times arise the benefit of other's insights come to mind. Thomas Jefferson offered ten rules towards success in life.

1.Never put off till tomorrow what you can do to-day.
2.Never trouble another for what you can do yourself.
3.Never spend your money before you have it.
4.Never buy what you do not want, because it is cheap; it will be dear to you.
5.Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst and cold.
6.We never repent of having eaten too little.
7.Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly.
8.How much pain have cost us the evils which have never happened.
9.Take things always by their smooth handle.
10.When angry, count ten, before you speak; if very angry, an hundred.

I wished the BOV, advisors and paid consultants had reviewed these words of wisdom before they found themselves seeking more money and repairing reputational risk.

So not to sound one sided; it's interesting to note Thomas Jefferson did not follow his own ten rules. How can I say this? TJ died bankrupt from over development tied to limited sources of revenues that didn't cover growing expenses.

To the BOV --- IS HISTORY DOOMED TO REPEAT?

Are UVA's best days over? Or will you adapt to the new educational enviroment and use the internet as an effective tool towards directing non socratic 100 and certain 200 level courses into a commoditized space and get back to educating the students? Why haven't you built a backlog of UVA professors who are willing to thrive and teach such as Havard, Princeton, Yale and Stanford have accomplished? How are you going to earn back the reputation this school deserves without spending a tremendous amount of money? Why have you choose this course of action with former President Sullivan? Basically ousting the voice of truth at a time when transparancy is needed to support a (OOS) $50,000.00 per year cost to educate ? When will UVA BOV and the office of the President demonstrate leadership position without assistance of outside paid consultants and paid advisors? Outsiders and their advice cheapens and doesn't reassure the students, teachers, parents, alumni, prospective students, state officials, tax payers and others this school is run by internal intellectual strenght with a coherent plan?

Finally, maybe it's better for all parties to be removed from the upper house of UVA management, including the BOV positions to put this insitution back as a leader and not a follower. You all have to run this school not as a "case study" but as living insitution that needs it's mojo back.

It's kind of jaw-dropping to compare Dragas' bloviating generalities from her PR-speech (excellence! aspire! achieve!) with the careful, detailed specificity of Sullivan's account of her plan for transforming (albeit carefully, not recklessly) the university and her list of achievements. Sullivan is an adult; I don't know what Dragas is, but she's several leagues below Sullivan when it comes to managing an institution.

Dragas strikes me as a child with her fingers stuck in her ears, endlessly repeating, "Nah-nah-nah-nah, I can't hear you!!!"

Re: "MallWalker: Your online dictionary does indeed have "incent" in it. "

Exactly.
No need for your additional drivel.

"'or the night good old gov Mills Godwin set the state troopers loose on the Lawn -now that was real pandemonium, believe me-if you could duck into somebody's Lawn room, you were lucky...'
I want to hear more about this. What happened?

Spartacus - that happened in May 1970. There were protests (Vietnam war) around the Rotunda. Traffic was hindered at the Rugby Road intersection. I believe it was the state troopers who showed up to back up the local gendarmes, and ordered the crowd to disperse. No one really heard them and the protestors just continued to mill about, yell, etc. The troopers charged, swinging their billy clubs and the students started running down the lawn to avoid being beaten. Some, as another poster noted, ducked into lawn rooms to get away. Some were caught, arrested and shoved into a moving van, which took them to jail. We jokingly called the unlucky ones the "Charlottesville 68" - a little riff on the "Chicago 7".

Sorry to go off topic, hope we hear more about the real issue soon.

Hawes --

Curious about the source of your crowd estimate. Coy Barefoot estimated it at 1,000 on his show this afternoon.

"that happened in May 1970. There were protests (Vietnam war) around the Rotunda."

Related, I believe, to the strategic dynamism that saw the National Guard kill four stakeholders on the Campus of Kent State. 4 May 1970.

It is just sad. Sad that UVA will probably pay the bill to the PR firm to write Dragas' speeches and improve her image? I've always hated that there are powerful women out there viewed as "bit#hes" or "overly emotional" or "cold" like her and then there are women out there who honestly work hard and may have to do things they do not like but do so with compassion like Sullivan (who is a class act).

When UVA named Sullivan as President, my thought was finally - into the 21st century. This was a man's institution that only allowed women in because it is a Public University and if not state funding would stop. Many women who attended UVA early on were not treated well, endured many comments by the son's of alum who felt no woman should be on the lawn unless they were laying down on the lawn and they some how managed to get through.

Now we have this? It is just sad.

Hawes Spencer here. I stand by my crowd estimate, by my use of the term "pandemonium" (which simply means a noisy place), by my quotation of the term "super-executive session," and now by my slideshow which I've uploaded for you: http://www.readthehook.com/g/sullivan-appears-pandemonium-outside-rotunda

Along with a local sports photographer and a media broadcaster, we estimated the crowd at about 3,000 people. We were up above the crowd on the Rotunda balcony, so we had a good view of the density, length and width of the crowd. Our estimate was made a few minutes before President Sullivan so ceremoniously marched up the lawn to the Rotunda.

Let's not canonize Sullivan. She's the one that hired STRINE. Not the best of decisions!

Awesome slide show Mr Spencer . We are still waiting at the Rotunda . After a brief open session the board is back in closed session but we just heard for all the diehards - food is on the way - We haven't given up yet

I was there for many hours. There was absolutely no "Pandemonium". It is insulting to insinuate that there was. There was no wild uproar or chaos which is the definition of pandemonium. It was noisy at times but that too was orderly and focused. There was sincerity, solidarity, orderliness, focus and even tears. I was very proud to be part of such a fabulous unified and dignified group of people. Please change your headline.

I think it is interesting that Cville never publishes my posts/comments, but the Hook always does, whcih paper do you think I will pick up and read and advertise in? Cville must be part of Jones media aquisitions and no, I do not do Yoga, or buy Universities

If pandemonium means excitement then yes that is appropriate.
We screamed and yelled and clapped and clapped . No it was not disorderly but there was great passion and great love for President Sullivan and she shone like a star - what a class act .

Loved the pictures, Mr. Spencer. Is that Strine or Voldemort??

Although the group on the lawn certainly leaned towards faculty, there were also a significant number of staff present. We are equally appalled by the events of the past several days, and yet are largely discounted.
This is our university too.

Thanks for the pizza - we love YOU - whoever you are

Anyone hungry we have a mountain of pizza at the Rotunda

The Sullivan firing is a mess. But there's a similar situation going on concurrently, in another venue. A female board chair booting out an incredibly talented and effective leader. Think "woof" and "meow" and follow the egos. My solution: some egos should be surgically removed at birth.

We need help Bodo's just dropped off 100 bagels

Folks, this is the calibre of the woman we've seemingly lost as president of the University,

http://erikahayesjames.com/2012/06/a-sudden-departure/#more-836

My hat is off to Bodo's and whoever has donated the pizza. I will be sure to patronize Bodo's next time I am in C'ville and I will be happy to do likewise with the pizza donor if it is a shop.

Just got word coming out in 15 min

Nancy, coming out as in finishing the meeting with some sort of statement?

Mr. Spencer, thanks so much for the slide show...I was completely on an upbeat mood until I saw the picture of Helen Dragas and the evil smirk on her face...that picture is etched in my mind and I only have one thought....and this was supposed to be the first female governor of VA? (from an article I read today). This picture certainly didn't do her "PR" any good. Guess Mr. Jones will have to cough up another $100,000 or more to get that "mark" off her reputation...

There's still time to come to the rotunda if you want to be here when board exits

I think they're out now. Someone just tweeted they felt broom straw float down from the night sky.

Yes we're expecting statement any minute at Rotunda-- still lots of pizza and bagels

Thank you for the excellent pictures. Really gives a good look behind the scenes. There is another terrific picture at NBC29.com, lead story. Amazing picture full of irony. President Sullivan looking beautiful and brave for UVa but her husband's expression (he's the fellow beside her) is heartbreaking. Says it all in that one picture.
http://wvir.images.worldnow.com/images/18817164_BG2.jpg

I left UVA a couple of years ago because it seemed to me that the lunatics were running the asylum. I now know that I wasn't just imagining that, it is true. I am very glad to be out of there. And thanks to JPTJones and Dragas, UVA's ranking as a national university will fall from 25 to 205. Nice work guys.

We've been told that right now John Simon is addressing the board -- still waiting around 200 people circling the Rotunda.

@ NancyDrew, Thank you so much. Your persistence and dedication through all this in last few days is really appreciated.

Has Simon been in the BOV meeting the entire time? Has he been privy to their discussion?

Thank you - we're hopeful something isn't going as planned hopefully not as Dragas planned - we're still waiting

To my knowledge Simon was not in the entire meeting. Hilary Hurt a student at UVA has been there the entire time - what an experience

Thanks. I'm hoping something isn't going her way too. I was told that yesterday at the Faculty Senate meeting which was held at Darden John Simon insinuated he'd resign if they didn't reinstate Pres. Sullivan.

This is turning into an all nighter - no word yet

Reason it may be taking so long . I met an out of town law alum who is here and said board members Fralin and Caputo were 2 of the 3 that Dragus never informed of her plot and they were apoplectic
So they may be holding up the Dragus Plan .

They better reinstate Teresa Sullivan or they can kiss their Aaa bond rating good-bye. I bet Helen understands that concept.

Anyone notice that on the University Home Page (Today's News) that Dragus's Statement was listed and Sullivan's was clearly missing?

" Please resign, please resign, shame, shame, shame , you have done so much damage to this University " - the voices rang out in the night, as the Board of Visitors exited the Rotunda.

The BOV won't be resigning. They are going to "stay the course" and will consider all the reaction they're getting to be mere "resistance to change," caused by "ivory tower elites" who are "out of touch."

In their view, they have taken UVA "back" and are saving it, making it what the people want, what the people want - this year. And what other year matters? We're on an election cycle here, and Dragas wants to be the first woman governor of Virginia.

When the dust settles, the worst that happens to Dragas & Co. is that UVA will be in turmoil and will need many years to recover. They, on other hand, can blame the mess on "the elites" who resisted them and move on to the next "populist uprising" on behalf of "We the People." Just enough people will regard them as heroes to float them into congress, the gov's mansion, etc.

Sorry to sound cynical, but that's where this is headed in my view. Game, set, match: treachery - especially when it's tarted up in lots of language about "family," "love," and all the rest - works.

Yes, this will be a huge blow to UVa, but when donations plummet which they already have in the wake of the Sullivan ouster, then we can hold the " new interim president" and his Board responsible.

My guess is that there are megabucks donors waiting in the wings to own a bigger stake in UVA. They're ready - by pre-arrangement - to ride in and "rescue" UVA (henceforth to be known as "our beloved community") from the Ivory Tower elites and those who "can't understand the future."

They live in Connecticut.