Monday, June 11, 2012

Saddened and shocked by the dismissal of UVA President Sullivan

President Teresa Sullivan
at St. Paul's Memorial Church
Sept. 26, 2010
Photo by Bonny Bronson
I am among those saddened and shocked this morning by the abrupt dismissal of Teresa Sullivan as the president of the University of Virginia (and, sorry, no Monday Funnies today). In our community, the president of the University is certainly the most important public official we have. This is doubly true for my congregation; most of my members are connected to the University as students, faculty, staff and alums.

Terry has shown in her brief two years here that she cares about the community, cares about students, and cares about the people who work at the University. She had a down-to-earth style that was refreshing.

She gave her first public speech in our pulpit, preaching on Sept. 26, 2010, at our Convocation Sunday. She preached about creating a caring community, and the backdrop was the beating death of a student, Yeardley Love, by her boyfriend. You can read her sermon HERE.

Speaking as a member of the community, I have to say that there are more questions than facts about her dismissal. It is clear from reading the prepared statements issued from University officials on a Sunday that Sullivan was dismissed, and the crux of the conflict was her leadership on the budget.

The Board of Visitors apparently wanted to more money to make more "star hires" and Sullivan had a different view. She had not long ago reached a compromise with advocates for a "living wage" for the lowest paid University employees. She has also stood against steep tuition increases, as Governor Robert McConnell credited her with in his prepared statement.

But I am only speculating about the reason for her departure. I would hope that as the week unfolds we might get more facts about her dismissal.

I must also register my dismay that her dismissal was done on a Sunday when reporters are off,  officials are hard to reach, and not incidentally, some people are in church.

Finally, I must give my thanks to President Sullivan for her friendship to our congregation and her leadership in our community. She will be very missed.

1 comment:

Christian Roberts said...

I am still hoping for a grassroots effort to keep her here. I have heard nothing but compliments for her in all respects. I am sure she has a better grasp on the needs of the University going forward than all the half-pints on the Board of Visitors combined. This is such a loss for the University and community. Thank you, President Sullivan, for your service.