The deans of the university’s schools, the dean of admissions, and the university librarian became the latest members of the school community to weigh in on the controversy Thursday, urging the board to give Ms. Sullivan, whose tenure began in August 2010, her job back. Her resignation is effective Aug. 15.
The group characterized as “extremely admirable” the Board of Visitors‘ determination to implement its plans for the stewardship of the university.
“However, it is clear after nearly two weeks of outrage, indignation, upset, threats of withdrawal of support and loyalty, that the people of the University of Virginia, and their ideas, which together comprise the University much more than buildings or landscapes, regard the decision as a mistake made in the absence of open discourse and courtesy,” they said in a statement addressed to the board.
The group did not offer interim President Carl Zeithaml, dean of the undergraduate business school, an opportunity to join the statement, saying “it would put him in an extraordinary difficult position even to be asked.”
Ms. Sullivan issued a statement Thursday urging civility from the university community during the difficult period, in which the campus has devolved into a sea of chaos and become cloaked in rumor and innuendo surrounding her ouster.
“Let me say in particular that Carl Zeithaml has been an exemplary member of the University community, and he and his family in no way deserve abusive language,” she said. “The Board of Visitors is made up of dedicated volunteers, and abusive behavior toward them or anyone else is destructive of our community’s values.”
Rector Helen E. Dragas and former Vice Rector Mark Kington — who resigned Tuesday — are said to have helped orchestrate Ms. Sullivan’s sudden ouster.
Ms. Dragas issued a lengthy statement Thursday outlining a list of challenges the university faces and defending her actions in response to them.
“I agree with critics who say that we should have handled the situation better,” she acknowledged. “In my view, we did the right thing, the wrong way. For this, I sincerely apologize, and this and future boards will learn from our mistakes.”
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican, has the opportunity to appoint as many as six new members to the board on July 1. Ms. Dragas, selected by former Gov. Tim Kaine, a Democrat, is up for reappointment. Mr. McDonnell has not said whether he will reappoint her.