House Minority Leader David Toscano: Sullivan Firing Was "fundamentally flawed"

Monday, June 18, 2012

The following statement is from Virginia House Minority Leader David Toscano, who represents Charlottesville in the Virginia House of Delegates.  This situation is becoming more and more troubling every day. Where is Gov. McDonnell's leadership, exactly? Completely AWOL so far, as he's been in so many other areas since he took office in January 2010. #FAIL Also, see Sen. Donald McEachin's thoughts in the comments section.


"I have spent significant time over the last week attempting to discover as many facts as I can involving the forced resignation of President Teresa Sullivan from the University of Virginia. My discussions have been with faculty members; members of the University community, including former administrators and Visitors; alumni; donors; students; members of the General Assembly; and current members of the Board of Visitors, including Rector Helen E. Dragas, who graciously agreed to meet with me and Senator Creigh Deeds, in my office last week. I have not spoken with Teresa Sullivan.

The more information I have gathered, the more troubling the action has become. Among my concerns are:
  • The forced resignation seems to have been engineered by a small number of people who arguably love the University, but who so misunderstand how change occurs within large complex institutions of higher education that their leadership is now questionable.
  • The so-called 'urgency' and 'existential threats' to the University that have served as justification by Rector Dragas and Vice Rector Mark J. Kington for their action is simply not borne out by the facts. Admittedly, the University has challenges, and they have clearly been indentified by President Sullivan in her May 3, 2012 memo to the Rector and Vice Rector (a memo that was not shared with all Board members). But these challenges were known at the time of her appointment, and President Sullivan had been implementing changes to address them.
  • The expression of 'no confidence" in the Board of Visitors passed by the Faculty Senate and statements expressing concern issued by numerous schools within the University.
My conclusion is simple and straight-forward -- the process by which President Sullivan was forced to resign was fundamentally flawed, dramatically at odds with our history as the flagship University in the Commonwealth, and inconsistent with a transparent decision-making process required of a public University.

The action places the University at substantial peril, in the short and long term...[See the "flip" for the conclusion]