The 'incrementalist': UVA President Teresa Sullivan, translated

"I have been described as an incrementalist. It is true. Sweeping action may be gratifying and may create the aura of strong leadership, but its unintended consequences may lead to costs that are too high to bear. "

I bet you felt almighty powerful when you canned me. So how do you feel now?

"Corporate-style, top-down leadership does not work in a great university. Sustained change with buy-in does work. UVA is one of the world’s greatest universities."

Seriously, you guys have acted like bulls in a china shop. What the heck were you thinking?

"But at the end of the day, money alone is not enough. The faculty must also believe that they can do their best work here. They must believe in the future here. At any great university, the equilibrium – the pull between the desire to stay and the inducements to leave – is delicate. Rapid change rapidly upsets this delicate equilibrium.

Already in the last ten days we have lost faculty to other universities. Fortunately, we are well past the usual hiring season in most disciplines. But deans and provosts at every peer institution are setting aside funds now to raid the University of Virginia next year given the current turmoil on our campus."

Our faculty will now be leaving in droves, you morons. Not to mention our donors. Jeeze!

"The Contemplative Sciences Center, which has broadened considerably from the original donor proposal to an exciting synergy among faculty from the Medical School, the College of Nursing, Asian Studies, Religious Studies, and other departments."

We created the yoga center for Paul Tudor Jones and his wife, but noooo… that wasn't enough. Who the hell is in charge of the University anyway?

"Environmental sustainability is a topic that excites faculty and students from nearly every school, including the College, Architecture, Engineering, and others. A new partnership with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, together with our widely heralded Bay Game, offer opportunities for study in species conservation and clean water, which will be one of the most important issues of this century."

Again, we promote another Paul Tudor Jones pet project, but noooo… that isn't enough. Who does this guy think he is?!

"A dramatic top-down reallocation in our general fund, simply to show that we are “changing,” or that we are not “incremental,” seems to me fiscally imprudent, highly alarming to faculty, and unfair to students who expect to get a broadly inclusive education here."

Strategic dynamism? How about we call it what it is: a bunch of ignorant posturing from people who made campaign contributions to governors.

"If we were to embark on a course of deep top-down cuts, there would also be difficult questions regarding what to cut. A university that does not teach the full range of arts and sciences will no longer be a university. Certainly it will no longer be respected as such by its former peers."

Hello! We're a University. A place where you're supposed to learn stuff. Remember?

"Fundraising takes time. A new President first has to meet donors and establish trust and rapport. Instability is as alarming to donors as it is to faculty and in the last few days you are already seeing the impact."

Way to go, morons. You say you want to see fundraising increase, but now you've bitten the hands that feed us.

"We have created the 4VA telepresence consortium with the state, Cisco, Virginia Tech, George Mason, and James Madison that uses sophisticated technology to share courses and other resources; examples are advanced Mandarin and national security policy. I would have become the consortium’s chair on July 1. There is room for carefully implemented online learning in selected fields, but online instruction is no panacea. It is surprisingly expensive, has limited revenue potential, and unless carefully managed, can undermine the quality of instruction."

Seriously? This is all about online education? You're joking, right? Do you even know what is going on at the University? Come on, what is the real reason you canned me– you don't like the way I dress or something?

"Trust does not mean an absence of disagreement. But it requires that disagreements be frankly discussed. No matter how accomplished he or she may be, a president cannot read minds. When you choose a new president, tell him or her what you are thinking."

Next time, don't lie to your president about what you really want.
Obviously, the unitalicized words are satire and is not meant to be taken as actual reporting of events or statements by President Sullivan.

This story is a part of the The ousting of a president special.
Read more on: Teresa Sullivan


To any one who thinks Sullivan will be other than UVa business-as-usual (no more honorable or less than anywhere else) I reference her investigation of the VQR case, She found no grounds for criticism.Granted she was new- it wasn't her baby-it was Casteen's where a very overpaid editor gave poetry awards to his boss's (Casteen was his direct inline boss) son. I can't recall if that was a cash award.Minor matter, well yes-- And biz as usual, a newer set of cronies instead of old. Wahoo. As "Our faculty will now be leaving in droves, you morons. Not to mention our donors. Jeeze!" oh yes prof Larry Sound Byte is gonna leave this Pav? Fac have a good deal at UVa, period.

Well done. Energizing and thought-provoking. This reminds us that our vigil must continue.

I have no UVA affiliation, but supported and rallied on The Lawn for Sullivan's reinstatement. I also favor no re-appointment for the Rector. This satire piece, however, is garbage, in my view. That said, I fully support your right to write it and wrap it into your paper before dumping it into the trashcan. Also, the hit piece "news story" on President Sullivan's appearance and weight was in poor taste as well, in my opinion. While I completely support The Hook's right to create and print that as well, it deserves the same fate in the nearest dumpster. Thanks, though, for a lot of excellent and timely previous reporting on the Sullivan Saga over the past couple of weeks. Enjoy the upcoming Independence Day holiday.

I thought Dave's piece was pretty well on target. I was not happy with the VQR report either but she was new and she did put into place some anti-bullying procedures. Let's sees if she now treats faculty and staff better than the BOV treated her going forward. It was a good lesson for everyone including President Sullivan. Who knows maybe we won't have any more cases like Deena Bowers and Wende Marshall in the future?

This is just the beginning at all levels or else all we did is help a well paid president get her job back. I am hopeful we will get reform of the BOV appointment process and shared governance. I am hopeful this will encourage other universities to fight back. I am hopeful President Sullivan will make UVA a more transparent place for faculty, staff, and students.

Is the reason for letting her go and the reason for taking her back transparent yet ? What things was she doing wrong and what did she do over 2 weeks to correct them ? was the final action simply a result of herd mentality with the BOV joining the herd ?

These stories about Sullivan the past couple of days kind of dillutes the drama after the fact . The scene of the front steps Tuesday afternoon clearly shows that The Fat Lady has sang .

I hope the victory parade of re-entrenching a wildly overhyped & overpaid bureaucrat never ends !

During the reconciliation ceremony, I seem to recall the Rector saying the Board had found a middle path. Am I correct? If so, what does that mean concerning the original disagreement?

I would like to be the next President because I would eliminate sports from education,they have nothing to do with each other and serve as a distraction to educated minds!What a travesty that sports and education go hand and hand,mindless drones beating their heads against one another then trying to get the same heads to accept knowledge.Sports are nothing but a way for schools to garner funds in an unconcienable way with total disregard for the health of students,and justification of a heathen-istic activity that is a waste of valuable individuals ,countless dollars and endless time!

I believe the rector used the word to imply that there had been a compromise, when instead, the rector had been utterly and completely thwarted. The use of the term middle path, along with the tepid resolution of support, allowed her to walk out of the room with what she presumed was some dignity. The most telling point was that Heywood Fralin spoke for the board, as the 'senior member of the board"--a position that does not in actuality exist. The rector should be speaking for the board, but she had been so thoroughly trounced that she could not risk the public humiliation of loud boos and rejection at the podium.

McDonnell could reappoint Dragas and give her a path at redemption---but the risks are greater than the rewards on that and why would he want to help out someone who is a Democrat anyway. Dragas needs to disappear from the public eye for awhile, build some more crappy plastic homes, and use her wealth to re-emerge as a donor and board member somewhere else.

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