Upon her reappointment to the presidency of the University of Virginia after a protracted controversy with the Board of Visitors, Teresa Sullivan made a call for unity: “There is no time for residual hostility toward anyone perceived to have been on the other side of recent disagreement. We can go forward with what is best for the University only if we go forward together.”
The spirit of forgiveness did not last long. Yesterday, Sullivan announced the resignation of the university’s chief operating officer, Michael Strine, who had been accused of being disloyal to her during the fracas.
Although Strine insisted that he was not involved with the decision to ask for her resignation in early June, he did work closely with Rector Helen Dragas during Sullivan’s absence and never distanced himself from the board, as other senior administrators had. The release of emails under the Freedom of Information Act also revealed a relationship with Dragas that went beyond cordial to downright chummy.
With the exception of Dragas, whom Governor Bob McDonnell recently reappointed to the board, Sullivan’s most visible critics are all gone. Mark Kington, a former vice rector, resigned from the board, and Peter Kiernan, a former Goldman Sachs executive, stepped down from his position running the Darden business school foundation. Even Dragas has been effectively humbled, and effectively neutered, by the overwhelming show of support by university faculty, administrators and alumni.
Reports the Daily Progress:
In a statement, Sullivan said that Strine offered his resignation “in the best interest of the university,” and that she accepted “with gratitude for his contributions and dedication to the university.” …
Sullivan said she is sure Strine’s leadership skills and commitment will stand him in good stead and that the university “will not skip a beat” as it searches for a successor.
“Will not skip a beat.” That says all we need to know about the president’s attitude toward Strine.
Sullivan is fully in charge now — even more so than before her resignation. If she is beholden to anyone, it is only to the faculty members whose cause she had always championed and who rose vociferously to her defense. Insofar as the faculty represents a reactionary force resistant to restructuring their comfortable sinecures, it will be interesting to see how vigorously she prosecutes the reforms UVa so clearly needs to make. My guess is that we’ll see more “incremental change” that doesn’t rock boats.
Special thanks to DUI attorney Vanessa Hicks for supporting Bacon’s Rebellion.