Kington, Wulf resign following Board's refusal to reappoint Sullivan
Board of Visitors member Fralin explains opposition to interim presidential appointment; cites 'flawed' process behind Sullivan's resignation
Mark Kington resigned from his post as the Vice Rector of the Board of Visitors Tuesday afternoon, saying he hoped his departure could help bring about “a needed healing process at the university” following the Board’s abrupt ouster of President Teresa A. Sullivan on June 10.
His resignation came after an eventful Board meeting which began around 3 p.m. Monday and culminated with the 2:30 a.m. appointment of McIntire School of Commerce Dean Carl Zeithaml as the interim University president Tuesday.
Heywood Fralin, the sole Board member to vote against Zeithaml’s appointment, issued a statement Tuesday saying he was impressed by Zeithaml but would have reinstated Sullivan if offered the opportunity.
“I have not been presented with evidence that I believe merits asking for her resignation, nor have I ever indicated that I would be willing to support such an effort,” Fralin said. “Given an opportunity I would have also voted to support her reinstatement. It is my opinion that the process leading to her resignation was flawed.”
Computer Science Prof. William Wulf also filed his resignation Tuesday, saying the Board had committed “the worst example of corporate governance I have ever seen.”
Emails obtained by The Cavalier Daily from May and June sent between Rector Helen Dragas and Kington revealed the two had drafted a press release as early as June 2 announcing Sullivan’s resignation, and often sent each other articles and op-eds which promoted rapid innovation in higher educational policies. The emails also included messages from University alumni offering their input and opinions to the rector and vice rector, often pertaining to the topic of online education.
“I was not impressed [with] Terry’s [Sullivan’s] rather pedestrian answer to my question at the Sulgrave Club about online learning and what UVA was doing given what Stanford and others had announced,” wrote alumnus Jeff Nuechterlein, a venture capitalist and trustee of the University’s College Foundation.
Alumnus Jeffrey Walker, a member of the Miller Center Governing Council who was also affiliated with JPMorgan, urged Dragas to pursue online education lest the University “be left behind” other schools which have introduced such models.
“[T]he BOV is squarely focused on UVA’s developing such a strategy and keenly aware of the rapidly accelerating pace of change,” Dragas wrote in response.
Before Zeithaml was appointed as interim president, Board ex-officio member Edward Miller, the dean and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine, had been rumored a potential candidate. Miller, however, had only been appointed to the Board by Gov. Bob McDonnell a year prior as McDonnell thought the Board lacked expertise in the field of medical management, according to University Spokesperson Carol Wood.
Wood said she did not know of the Board having appointed any other ex-officio members since she arrived at the University in 1995.
McDonnell told reporters on a conference call Tuesday from Europe he still would not interfere with the Board’s authority to make decisions such as the one to force Sullivan’s resignation.
Jennifer Dragas Stedfast, the sister of the rector, published a letter Tuesday in The Daily Progress asking readers to “take the time to understand where and why Terry Sullivan fell short and then make your judgment” but saying she herself did not know any “specific reasons” for Sullivan’s departure.