In a dramatic reversal, the University of Virginia Board of Visitors voted unanimously today to reinstate Teresa A. Sullivan as President of the University of Virginia. It was a stunning political comeback for President Sullivan, who earlier in the month had been forced by the Board of Visitors to submit her resignation.
The sudden manner in which the Board of Visitors acted, without apparently developing a consensus around their decision, figured as a major reason in the reversal.
Helen Dragas, Rector of the University of Virginia and Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Board of Visitors, had defended the decision to ask for President Sullivan's resignation had called it "the right thing, done in the wrong way." Apparently, the tide of opinion turned against Ms. Dragas. The Board yesterday concluded it was the wrong thing, done in the wrong way.
Ms. Dragas had criticized President Sullivan's strategic direction--she wasn't cutting spending fast enough, and was moving too slowly online.
The faculty and students strongly supported President Sullivan.
In an earlier article this month, Did Breitbart Investigation Play Any Role in Sudden Resignation of UVA President ,Breitbart News had questioned whether its ongoing investigation into twenty-two year old charges of scientific misconduct against President Sullivan and co-authors Elizabeth Warren and Jay Westbrook had played a role in President Sullivan's sudden resignation. As events unfolded, it became clear that the investigation did not play a role in the Board of Visitors request for her resignation.
At the end of this earlier article we posed three questions. We now have answers to two of those three questions:
Question 1: Did President Sullivan, upon learning of the Breitbart News investigation into these twenty-two-year-old charges of scientific misconduct, immediately inform her employer--this time the University of Virginia's Board of Visitors--that the charges of scientific misconduct had resurfaced and were being described as "unresolved"?
Answer: We still don’t know the answer to this question, as neither President Sullivan nor Rector Dragas responded to our inquiries.
Question 2: If so, did this information factor into the decision by Rector Dragas to move quickly and decisively in securing the unanimous support of the fifteen other members of the Board of Visitors to request President Sullivan's resignation?
Answer: Based on every public statement made by Rector Dragas, the Breitbart investigation appears to have played no role in the board’s decision to request President Sullivan’s resignation. Their objection to her administration was based on matters of strategy and fiscal policy. According to insider sources, President Sullivan has actively resisted the Board’s efforts to cut expenses and make the University of Virginia more capable of competing in the online digital environment.
Question 3: Given the level of community support apparently enjoyed by President Sullivan, why did she so readily acquiesce to the board's sudden demand for her resignation?
Answer: Based on the results of today’s board meeting, President Sullivan knew exactly what she was doing when she accepted the board’s request for her resignation. She appears to have rightly calculated that, in time, her widespread support among the faculty and student would overcome the board’s opposition to her vision for the university.
Breitbart's investigation into these two decades old charges of scientific misconduct continues.
Michael Patrick Leahy is a Breitbart News contributor, Editor of Broadside Books’ Voices of the Tea Party e-book series, and author of Covenant of Liberty: The Ideological Origins of the Tea Party Movement.