Sullivan announces she is stepping down in 2018

Board of Visitors asked to begin presidential search before Sullivan's contract expires

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University President Teresa Sullivan announced in an email Friday she plans on leaving the University after her contract ends in summer of 2018, and has asked the Board of Visitors to begin searching for a new president.

Sullivan said the University is in a strong position to transition to new leadership since she was hired in 2010, according to the email sent out to the University community.

“As 2017 begins, U.Va. is strong and positioned for even greater strength in our educational offerings, research programs and health system,” she said in the email.

In the email, Sullivan said the presidential search should entail the viewpoints of stakeholders from around the University, including faculty, students, administrators, alumni, parents and donors.

“The search committee should solicit the views of our affiliated foundations, which mobilize so many dedicated volunteers for the University,” Sullivan said. “Such consultation is best done without an undue sense of urgency.”

Sullivan said the transition would ideally start soon to ensure her successor is ready for the University’s bicentennial. She also noted the transition would allow her to introduce the new president to the Virginia governor, members of the General Assembly and the governor’s cabinet.

“A smooth transition takes some months to accomplish, and if we plan for that transition now, my successor will be in place and well prepared for the Bicentennial of the University’s charter in 2019 and for the launch of the Campaign for the University’s Third Century,” the email said.

She cited the Cornerstone Plan as one of her successes as president, emphasizing the Total Advising program, the Meriwether Lewis Institute for Citizen Leadership and the Strategic Investment Fund.

Sullivan said she aims to complete initiatives like the President’s Commission on Slavery and the University and laboratory renovations while preparing long-term initiatives — the Bicentennial Scholars Fund and the new partnership with Inova Health System — for future success.

“We have unfinished business to do in the months ahead, and with your continued effort and sustained energy we will do that work together,” Sullivan said. “I will be working at full speed for U.Va. until the very last day of my time in office.”

Sullivan, who was the first female president at the University, has seen ups and downs throughout her time in office, and her tenure has included several high-profile incidents.

These incidents include former University student George Huguely being found guilty of grand larceny and the second-degree murder of his former girlfriend and University lacrosse player Yeardley Love during his fourth-year, as well as the disappearance and death of second-year student Hannah Graham.

Sullivan’s time in office also saw the release of Rolling Stone’s article about an alleged gang rape that has since been debunked, and the bloody arrest of then third-year student Martese Johnson in the spring of 2015.

Sullivan herself was ousted by the Board of Visitors in June 2012, largely due to the efforts of former rector Helen Dragas. The unexpected resignation, however, resulted in faculty, alumni and student protests, leading to her reinstatement.

There were also some technological fiascos during her tenure, including the accidental release of nearly 19,000 student social security numbers in 2013 and China’s hacking of the University’s information technology systems.

More recently, Sullivan was criticized by some members of the University community for using a Thomas Jefferson quote in an email she sent following the American presidential election last November. There were no Jefferson quotes used in the email she sent out on Friday.

Following her term as president, Sullivan will be joining the faculty as a professor. She is expected to take a research leave and then teach at the University. 

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