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UVa Provost and Major Donors Question Integrity of Board in Ousting Teresa Sullivan

At an open meeting of the Faculty Senate of the University of Virginia on Sunday evening, The Washington Post and the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported, the university’s provost told the 800 people attending that the way the Board of Visitors had gone about obtaining the resignation of Teresa A. Sullivan as UVa’s president had brought him to a “defining moment” in his own career.

The Post also reported that major donors were questioning the forced departure of Ms. Sullivan, who resigned after the board’s rector, Helen E. Dragas, informed Ms. Sullivan that she had the votes to remove her. One major contributor, Hunter Smith of Charlottesville, told the Post that what had happened was “disgraceful” and that she would not give more until changes to the governing board were made.

The provost, John D. Simon, who was recruited to Virginia by Ms. Sullivan, had previously stopped short of criticizing the board. But at the faculty meeting on Sunday, he said he was “confronting and questioning whether honor, integrity, and trust are truly the foundational pillars of life” at UVa. He added that the board’s actions in the days ahead “will inform me as to whether the University of Virginia remains the type of institution I’m willing to dedicate my efforts to help lead.”

At the meeting, senate members voted, 68 to 2 with one abstention, to approve a resolution condemning Ms. Sullivan’s ouster. The meeting was held the night before senate leaders are scheduled to meet in a closed session with the board, in hopes of finally hearing some specifics about why the board finds it necessary to replace a popular president just two years into her term.

After Sunday night’s meeting, a psychology professor told the Post her feelings were much the same as the provost’s. “I don’t want to teach at a place like this,” she said.

A state legislator who attended, Del. David J. Toscano, a Democrat from Charlottesville, said he had not heard a single comment in support of the decision to oust Ms. Sullivan. “This is 98 percent opposed,” he said.

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