Fast-moving day: Sullivan reinstatement could be happening
The people in the Hook newsroom were trying to write some thoughtful analysis for next week's issue, but then we checked around and realized that events are happening so fast we can't keep up with a real story for every development. So here are a few highlights from today, Thursday, June 21:
- President Sullivan reveals she's still the president with a friendly note to the community,
- UVA faculty open portals for public input,
- The American Association of University Professors calls for Sullivan's reinstatement and reminds the public that it has called for an investigation into her ouster,
- The deans of 10 of the 11 schools at UVA (interim president Zeithaml, Dean of McIntire wasn't asked) sign a letter calling for Sullivan's reinstatement,
- The United4Honor Facebook page tops 12,500 members
But most importantly.....
- UVA spokesperson Carol Wood issues this press release at 4:45pm: The Board of Visitors will meet on Tuesday, June 26, 2012, at 3:00 p.m., in the Board Room of the Rotunda, to discuss possible changes in the terms of employment of the President.
No immediate word from Helen Dragas.
A source who has been conferring with a member of the Board of Visitors says that the resignation of Kington proved instrumental, that the board had been firmly deadlocked on reinstatement until Kington dismissed himself. The source says that the Board member can't guarantee a majority on Tuesday, that some members have gone "hiding," but that whatever vote is taken will need to be in open session forcing the attendees to abstain or reveal their stance to the public for the first time.
Board rules provide that any three members can call a meeting on three business days notice. Spokesperson Carol Wood says that the three members calling the meeting are A. Macdonald Caputo of Greenwich, Connecticut; Timothy B. Robertson of Virginia Beach, and one of the trio who accepted the resignation in a bizarre Sunday afternoon meeting June 10: Charlottesville's own Hunter E. Craig.
The source also indicates the key strategist on the Board pushing for Sullivan's reinstatement is Roanoke-based W. Heywood Fralin. The only person casting a "no" vote on the appointment of the interim president on the morning of June 19, Fralin denounced the process behind the ouster in comments to reporters after that vote.
Fralin (pictured here) is the immediate past Rector of the University as well as a trustee of both the real estate arm of the University and its athletic scholarship foundation. A 1962 UVA grad, he's the chief executive officer of Medical Facilities of America Inc., a nursing home operator in Virginia and North Carolina.
How does Dragas respond in the wake of these developments, which include widespread calls for her resignation? Around 6:30pm Thursday, Dragas released a statement that lays out ten "strategic challenges" faced by the University. These challenges range from a retreat in state funding to a need for better communications.
A crisis in confidence was NOT among the ten challenges, though Dragas did "sincerely" apologize for the way Sullivan was ousted.
"In my view," writes Dragas, "we did the right thing the wrong way."
Shortly after 8pm, comments under this story suggest a new problem for Dragas, who the Hook reported, a week ago, to have employed the services of Hill & Knowlton, a crisis management firm. As the commenters point out, the PDF document supplied to the Washington Post containing Dragas' statement carries the name of a Hill & Knowlton executive, John Ullyot, as its original author.
While Board of Visitors members are not bound by UVA's vaunted Honor Code, some of the commenters have noted that submitting someone else's words as one's own carries negative ethical implications.
The PDF is downloadable from a link below.
–story last updated 7:25am