Zeithaml suspends presidency: Will wait until BOV votes on Sullivan reinstatement
The man tapped as the interim president of the University of Virginia has decided to go back to work as the dean of the University's McIntire School of Commerce and cease further negotiations with the Board of Visitors until the Board resolves the question of whether or not to reinstate unceremoniously ousted of President Teresa Sullivan.
"Trust cannot be restored in our community until the President Sullivan's status is clarified and ultimately resolved," Zeithaml said in statement emailed to the community on the morning of Friday, June 22.
Three members have called a public meeting of the Board set for 3pm on Tuesday, June 26. Sources indicate that a scramble is on to muster the eight votes that would be needed to reinstate Sullivan.
"There is an enormous groundswell of support for Terry Sullivan's reinstatement as our president," Zeithamel says in his statement.
"In the three days since I accepted this position, I have talked to many in our community about what transpired on Grounds while I was out of the country on University business, and I received a great deal of input from numerous colleagues, including members of the faculty," Zeithaml writes. "I deeply appreciate and respect this input."
The message follows a whirlwind Thursday in which President Sullivan and Rector Helen Dragas traded dueling public statements– the President's a friendly reminder about civility and the Rector's a defense of her actions.
However, the key June 21 development was the official call by three members of the Board of Visitors, the Univesity's governing body, for the public vote on Tuesday. That will clarify not only the position of Sullivan but the individuals who allowed the University to spiral into chaos following the secretive effort to displace the President.
Another voice emerging into the debate Thursday night is Katie Couric. A UVA alumna, Couric is the broadcast journalist who gave the keynote speech at UVA's most recent graduation. On her Twitter account, Couric lauds the Cavalier Daily, the student newspaper. The paper's early Freedom of Information request uncovered emails showing that the Rector and Vice-Rector– who later pulled Charlottesville resident Boardie Hunter Craig into their secret plot– relied heavily on YouTube videos and newspaper articles to bolster themselves and their desire for UVA to achieve technology supremacy.
As it turned out, some of the key players in the ouster have made embarrassing technology gaffes.
Darden School Foundation Chair Peter Kiernan resigned June 14, after firing off an ouster-day email– clumsily using the "reply-all" function and taking credit for a role in the coup. More recently, the text of Dragas' June 21 defense of the firing, was revealed by its own meta-data, to have come from the hand of a professional publicist at Hill & Knowlton named John Ullyot.
In a sign of how quickly the dynamic is changing, Sullivan-axing Board member Craig now finds himself, along with Roanoke-based Boardie (and recent UVA Museum mega-donor) Heywood Fralin, as one of the few outspoken leaders in the effort to reinstate Sullivan.
Besides serving as one of the three who called Tuesday's Board meeting, Craig took the opportunity at the open portion at the end of the marathon Board meeting that concluded June 19 to reveal his wish to reinstate Sullivan.
"I came here hoping to vote for Terry," Craig said to a Hook reporter after that 11-hour session wrapped, "but there was not a majority."
The resignation of Kington and the upcoming push for an open vote could change that.
–DEVELOPING STORY. UPDATED HERE WITH DETAILS OF HIS PRESS CONFERENCE.This story is a part of the The ousting of a president special.Read more on: carl zeithaml