Madame president! Sullivan to take UVA reins
The UVA board of visitors voted unanimously on January 11 to appoint Dr. Teresa Sullivan, provost and vice president of academic affairs at the University of Michigan, as UVA's eighth president, replacing John Casteen III when he retires in August.
Following the vote, UVA Rector John O. "Dubby" Wynne introduced 60-year-old Sullivan, praising her more than three decades experience in "almost every aspect of higher education," and claiming with incredulity that Sullivan met a list of requirements put forth by the board "so comprehensive as to be unattainable." Among other things, he said, she is a leader "who could create a vision that could be measurably achieved"; a recruiter of top notch faculty; someone who values diversity and understands the benefits of athletics; and an experienced budget manager who was chancellor over nine schools in the University of Texas system. Beyond those characteristics and skills, Wynne said, the board wanted someone with "emotional intelligence, who is self aware, sociable and empathetic."
In her acceptance speech, Sullivan praised Casteen, promising to "pursue the course he has charted." She introduced her husband of 38 years, Douglas Laycock, who will teach at UVA Law, and her two grown sons, Joseph, a doctoral student at Boston University, and John, a recent college grad who is planning a fall wedding.
In the coming months, Sullivan said, she will continue her full time work in Michigan, where, she noted with a smile, "I have a budget due and 200 promotions to make decisions about." She plans to visit Charlottesville at least once a month to meet with faculty, students, board members, and Virginia legislators in preparation for taking over this summer.
While Sullivan may be amply qualified to head a university of any size, UVA's presidency, she confessed, is the only such position she has ever applied for.
"This," she explained of UVA, "is one of the jewels of higher education."
As for the challenges she will face, Sullivan, who is also a demographer and a sociologist whose research focuses on consumer bankruptcy, says her biggest short term challenges as president will be financial. The long term challenge, she believes, will be the "hot competition to get the best minds."
Sullivan's five-year contract promises her total annual compensation of $680,000.
–- story updated at 4:39pm
–Old headline: "Sullivan becomes new UVA president"