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.


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

Those who do not know Dean Zeithaml are terribly misinformed and need to learn a little about him before making judgment. He is a class act and by far the most fitting person for the position. Those in the McIntire School of Commerce know, appreciate, and understand his undying dedication to the University and its students. As a professor, he knows the value of strong relationships and is not a simple "puppet" of the BoV, nor is he a "greedy businessman looking to take over the school". Please, if you are concerned, give him a chance and you will not be disappointed. The response of the McIntire community when news of Dean Z's interim presidency was filled with happiness and a lot of "Aw hell yeah".

Great. This is the right move.

There are plenty of problems to solve, challenges to face, at UVa. We all knew that before June 10th. The best approach, however, involves working together on these problems with President Sullivan in her proper place in Carr's Hill and fulfilling her duties in Madison Hall.

There is a lot of work to be done. We need to bolster faculty and staff pay, ADD faculty in order to reduce the student:teacher ratio, increase research funding, probably build a couple new buildings to house new faculty and staff (building should not be the priority, at this point, however), and, well, yes, do something with on-line media.

But all of these challenges can best be met with President Sullivan in place. She is not perfect, but she is a determined and positive leader, and many--most of us--have reacted well to her leadership.

One hopes that the ultimate result of this debacle will be not only a reinstatement, but also a new sense of urgency and *shared* responsibility--and governance--in facing and ultimately solving the problems facing the University.

There is no reason UVa cannot be a great University and a great PUBLIC university. But it will take work, money, and cooperation. And it will require our leadership not to make knee-jerk decisions of monumentally stupid proportions, like sacking random targets in the senior leadership with little forethought.

@McIntire Student, I do not know anything about your Dean, but have heard he is a good man. But, we had a great President Teresa Sullivan, and overwhelmingly students, faculty, staff, the community, and alumni want her back. She was just getting started and all signs were, from those in the know ( not those who just read newsclips), that she was doing an excellent job .

Bring back President Sullivan !

Thanks to Katie Couric for lending her voice. I'd love to see Tina Fey, Tom Shadyak and other UVa alums with national exposure bring this foolish power play by Dragas and the BOV out to the light of day...

Dean Z, class act.


Rector Dragas needs to acknowledge that she made a mistake. The PR machine that is working for her presented a very one sided portrait of this person. Who cares about how much her company has given away. They get tax breaks for all of this so called CHARITY. The rebuilding of the houses with the Chinese drywall was no nice act, it was the honorable thing to do, but the Dragas firm should not have purchased this material in the firist place. I am sure this mess with the houses built with material from the low bidder is how she and her firm do business. Also, she knows that a lawsuit would cost much more then rebuilding these houses.


President Sullivan needs to be retained and allowed to finish her current contract. If she lacks skills in an area of responsibility, a person or persons could be hired for any support that she needs. Trying to run a university and a health care system in this environment may be too much to expect from one person.


The time has come to return UVA to a position of honesty and clarity. Mr. Jefferson would be very sad to see what his institution has become.


@Seeking--Well put!

All--Now how do we work to ensure Dragas' resignation or non-reappointment? It seems her departure is the linchpin in this mess now. Also, how do we work to ensure Ms. Sullivan has the votes come Tuesday?

By all accounts Dean Zeithaml is a class act; my friends from McIntire all love him. To me, he justified the faith in him by taking today's action.

Tom Justice, CLAS 77

Hook - Zeithaml was not to assume the Presidency until August 16th the headline is a bit misleading. What he has done is suspended his communications with the BOV until they resolve this matter, we hope in favor of Sullivan staying. I hope that all the Dean's would feel that their input is not only required, but needed in order to run the University. I hope that all people if all goes as many wish it will know their input into the University is heard. We have a whole lot of bright people not just in the UVA Community but that transcends outward to the central Va area too. You can not be a native of this area without having been influenced by Thomas Jefferson and the rich history we have here.

For the record, I did not receive my degree in the "traditional sense" as most, but went back to school after becoming a parent and an employee. I wish UVA would continue to expand it's adult degree program because the input of those of us who have been out there and truly appreciate our educations can help younger students and we do learn from the younger students too.

Adore that Katie Couric lent her voice to all of this.


@Gail Hyder Wiley - write the Governor: http://www.governor.virginia.gov/CommunityRelations/

Email the BOV and respectfully request Dragas resign and Sullivan be re-instated.

There is also a rally on the UVA Lawn at 2 PM - 4 PM Sunday, June 24.

http://www.virginia.edu/bov/visitorsandstaff.html - sorry forgot the link to the BOV list and you can also call their secretary etc. They were taking calls all day yesterday and from many others were very polite and sweet about it. Though they are just probably checking off a spreadsheet it is making an impact.

BOV: Please just move the term "fired" from President Sullivan's name to BOV-member Dragas's. Thank you.

Why was edward D. Miller MD appointed an ex oficio member of the BOV? It says he was appointed on 7/1/11. Who appoints ex oficio members? Isn't he the one Dragas wanted for interim president? Was he involved in the whole coverup? Does this plan go back to 7/1/11???

So who is in charge now? I assume that Sullivan is still stripped of her power and authority as president. Now that Zeithaml has suspended his interim presidency, are the faculty and administration back to reporting to Dragas until after the BOV meeting on Tues?

Al Haig, where are you?

I'll just say it now, "Told ya so."

Class act.

SNL needs to invite Tina Fey back for a guest host gig pronto just so she can play Dragas.

What an extraordinarily gracious decision, and one that appears rooted in genuine concern for the community. Just as I admire his decision to step in to the difficult situation in attempt to staunch the bleeding, I doubly admire his decision to remove himself, to clear the way for healing.

Well done!

Me. Zeithmal may be a good man, but he has allowed himself to be manipulated by a cabal of Ill-informed, greedy, power-hungry Philistines who have blackened the name of the University. When many people were wondering what right-minded qualified person would take the job of the President which rightly belonged to Teresa Sullivan, he stepped forward. He looks bad and he has scarred the reputation ofSchool he leads.

BOV manual: Section 4.21: The President shall attend all meetings of the Board (and shall have notice of and the privilege of attending all meetings of its committees). Section 5.4 Minutes of Board Meetings - The Minutes of the Annual, regular and special meetings of the Board shall be open to inspection as required by law. Virginia Code§ 2.2-3711.1 allows for closed meetings for public bodies for personnel matters. § 2.2-3708 is the code for allowing electronic communication meetings. No way was it legal to call individual visitors and get their "votes". And holding an Emergency meeting means the governor has declared a disaster, or you are holding the meeting to address it, or to conclude the agenda of the meeting for this proper notice was given.

Rector Dragas - you should resign on the misuse of regulations alone.

Where is the regulation allowing super-executive sessions that don't allow notetakers? This is a serious question. I think the BOV members should know.

I point out that § 23-9.2:3.5 allows educational governing bodies to establish rules and regulations to employ professors ... and all other employees and dismiss them for failure to abide by such rules and regulations. Too bad there isn't a regulation for the BOV.

Also, Rector Dragas complains about the President's role with the Medical Center but the BOV manual makes her and 4 other BOVers the voting members on their Operating Board - the President and her staff are non-voting members.

Not sure if anyone has linked to this yet. Fox News weighs in...


...defends Emperor Palpatine.

I believe Miller was appointed by the Governor because the board was lacking medical expertise. I have been told he wanted nothing to do with the Dragas Mess . Perhaps since Zeithaml was out of the country he didn't know the full story . Now that he does be should not be an outlier but sign on with every other Dean calling for Sullivan's reinstatement.

Not so fast to condemn Zeithaml. He took the job and then stepped aside while stating almost immediately that the forced resignation of Sullivan was a mistake. The Board was going to give the job to SOMEBODY that night--they ended up giving it to someone whose first major act in the role was to step aside and put MORE pressure on the board to reinstate Sullivan. Maybe he knew that all along, or maybe he wisely played it as he saw it--but the net result is that the BOV's interim hire has made it easier to reinstate Sullivan--not too bad in my book.

Also remember that he was overseas when all of this was playing out. He may have been able to sense the political storm from there, but there is no way to feel the palpable anger and resolve of faculty, staff, students, alumni and community members until he got back. It is thick in the air at UVA right now.

Bravo to those here in defense of Zeithaml who took on a very bad job, got into it for all the right reasons, told the truth at his first press conference and then made a decision based on facts after talking with stake holders. His is one of the reason that the McIntire School is a leader in undergraduate business and so coveted by UVa undergrads for many years.

Ms. Heffernan, You know not of what you speak. Carl, from the outset, is doing what he thinks is in the best interests of the University. It's easy to throw your conspiratorial speculation about, but please refrain from lowering the discourse. He didn't step forward; he was asked, and in his own words, because of his love of the University above all, couldn't say no. Stepping out of the picture while Terry's improper dismissal resolves reinforces what those of us who know him well already knew about his character and intentions.

I was disappointed to see the Alumni network email list being used by Rector Dragas to get her statement out - especially since the statement did not address anything specific about Dr Sullivan's performance on the issues she listed and many of the items she listed were shown to be factually questionable by the Washington Post.

Dragas and her PR flaks are apparantly hoping that most of the folks on the Alumni email list have not heard about this issue yet, and that this email will be their first impression. If you havent already done so, this would be a good time to contact all of your Alumni friends, especially those who dont live in the area and let them know what is going on.

You might also want to contact the statement's author, John Ullyot of Hill & Knowlton strategies in DC - john.ullyot@hkstrategies.com

As he is being paid by the Foundation, I feel certain he would appreciate a diversity of views if he is penning another missive.

A class move by Mr. Zethaml...and a harbinger of an early Spring after our June Winter of discontent. This further augers a opening for the BOV to reinstall Teresa Sullivan, which I thought was all but impossible a week ago. I had no stong opinion pro or con, but now her reintallment would also change fundamendally relationships between students, faculty, alumni, and the BOV and any future Governor. Next week I I will again be proud to have graduated from the University of Virginia (twice).

The next few days will be interesting. At various points in the past few days Anne Neal, President of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni has written op-ed pieces to support the Rector. Much of the language from the Rector appears to come from the ACTA playbook:


This group advocates top-down changes to higher education through proactive board appointments by Governors and demands from alumni. In September 2011 they released a guide for governors and in January 2012 a report on higher education in Virginia.

The playbook for governors:


provides the recommendation that governors should “Encourage trustees to hire presidents who are agents of change.” (According to Paul Tudor Jones II, Jefferson as a “change agent” fits right in, but unfortunately I don't think he is available for appointment.). The ACTA is a partner organization of the Charles Koch Institute. I suspect that the ACTA documents are a good preview of the Governor’s comments.


Absolutely great find.

Just when you didn't think it could get any sleazier the Koch Brothers rear their ugly heads.

And, surprise, surprise look who's on their Board of Directors:

Lee E. Goodman, Esq., Treasurer
Attorney, LeClair Ryan
Former Associate General Counsel, University of Virginia

I forgot in my previous post to provide a link to the May 2012 (coincidence?) pamphlet from the American Council of Trustees and Alumni:


It has the same "urgency" rhetoric we have been hearing at UVa. It also includes phrases that echo the Governor's like:

"Governing boards may initiate change in some instances, but in all instances they will be required to act with the finality that only their authority permits."

I should also say that while I am completely opposed to the methods and, more important, the goals of the ACTA, they have acted openly in the process unfolding at UVa. In fact, the first article on their web page describes the role of their president (Anne Neal) in communication with the UVa BoV.

I just hope that everyone following this process evaluates the origin of the ideas coming out of the UVa BoV, the motives behind these ideas, and ultimately the validity of these ideas.

I don't think any of the ACTA ideas are valid for the public university created by Thomas Jefferson.

ACTA Board Member Lee Goodman was Special Counsellor to Governor Jim Gilmore, 1998-1999; Deputy Counselor to the Governor & Deputy Director of Policy to Gilmore, 1999 – 2002.

He also worked in the AG's office for Gilmore.

I'm grateful to Dean Zeithaml for his willingness to step into the fray, and his good judgment to step aside. The sooner Teresa Sullivan's resignation is rescinded, the better.

@JRP...No thanks to Kate Couric for chiming in. She could not read the news well enough to keep ratings, she screwed up enough stories when she was at NBC (News Bollocksing Corp.) and, frankly, she is an merely an entertainer who was a top anchor during the lowest point in network news. In other words, if you are proud to say you were a top officer in the Japanese army when the A-bombs were dropped, then pat yourself on the back; to the rest of us, you failed.

But, alas, that is what our society embraces now: mediocrity.

R.I.P.: Donald Barnhouse

Add another technological mistake to the list. I got an email today from:

From: Helen Dragas, Rector, University of Virgina

What the heck is a Virgina?

Liberalace: Your critique of Katie Couric notwithstanding, I think that it helps apply pressure to get President Sullivan reinstated if high-profile alums with access to the media help to get this story out. I didn't really care for all of Tom Shadyack's movies, but I still believe he could use his media connections to publicize this saga.