Board of Visitors names Carl Zeithaml interim University President
McIntire School Dean to assume role Aug. 16; Board rejects call to reappoint Sullivan
Following an eventful day which saw the collective emotions of the University community ebb between exhilaration and exhaustion, the Board of Visitors announced at 2:30 a.m. Tuesday that Carl Zeithaml, the dean of the McIntire School of Commerce, will replace President Teresa Sullivan on an interim basis starting August 16.
“I am sincerely honored and humbled to be called upon to serve the University in this capacity,” Zeithaml said. “I realize that it is a very difficult time for many people within our community, but I look forward to working with our faculty, students, staff, alumni and University leaders to move U.Va. forward.”
The Board’s announcements came as a rejection of widespread calls to reinstate Sullivan from several groups on-Grounds, including the Faculty Senate. University Rector Helen Dragas announced June 10 that Sullivan, who appeared briefly at the Rotunda yesterday to deliver remarks to the Board in closed session, would step downnAug. 15.
Zeithaml had released a statement to the McIntire community following Sullivan’s ouster saying the Board was “looking for decisive and bold action” and that McIntire “should continue to give them what they want.”
Dragas, the main architect of Sullivan’s ouster, downplayed the controversies of the past week in a statement released to the University community in which she said Zeithaml’s experiences would allow him “to hit the ground running.”
“I want to thank the U.Va. family for enduring the tumult of this difficult week,” Dragas said. “It has been exceptionally trying for all of us, and we accept our great share of responsibility for that. As we look forward to the transition to new leadership at the University, our community can rest assured that it will have a great deal of input.”
Dragas did not further address concerns Tuesday morning about the perceived lack of transparency in the Board’s decision to ask Sullivan to resign, although she apologized Monday afternoon for the tumultuous transition. Representatives from the public relations firm allegedly hired by Dragas were present in the Rotunda and were called into the boardroom at one point to present behind closed doors.
Twelve Board members voted in favor of the appointment. Heywood Fralin voted against it, while Robert Hardie and Macdonald Caputo – the latter unable to travel to the meeting due to a fractured hip – both abstained. Glynn Key left the meeting earlier in the evening and did not return for the vote.
Dragas said she supported the Senate’s request for a faculty representative position to be added to the Board, saying it would promote “greater engagement” between the Board and faculty. The Faculty Senate’s Executive Council had released a statement Monday morning calling for Dragas and Vice Rector Mark Kington to resign.
Senate Chair-elect Chris Holstege, an associate professor of emergency medicine, said Monday afternoon he didn’t believe any interim president would have legitimacy. “The faculty, the students, the alumni are all frustrated and there’s a complete show of support for Terry Sullivan,” Holstege said.
Law Prof. George Cohen, the chair of the Faculty Senate, declined to make a statement following the announcement, saying he wanted to meet with other Senators to decide how the group should move forward.
The Washington Post reported Monday that Sullivan would receive another full year’s worth of her presidential salary of $680,000, plus nearly $400,000 in deferred compensation and the opportunity to remain at the University as a tenured professor of sociology.
The Board’s announcement this morning followed nearly 11 hours of deliberations behind closed doors, and lasted six minutes. When it was reported, a crowd of about 100 still waited outside the Rotunda for the Board’s decision. An estimated 2,000 were in attendance on the Lawn 12 hours earlier.
Zeithaml came to the University in 1997 and specializes in the field of “strategic management,” according to the Board’s statement. His appointment stands in stark contrast to calls from Sullivan supporters who have expressed concerns about the University shifting to a corporate structure of management.
Dragas said the Board will form a special committee in the coming weeks to select the next permanent president.