Faculty Senate: “We will prevail”

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UVA’s Faculty Senate is holding its ground in opposition to Sullivan’s removal. Yesterday, Cohen sent an e-mail to UVA faculty members urging them to sign up for task forces and join the fight for Sullivan’s reinstatement. Cohen rallied his co-workers to resist the BOV’s coup d’état, saying, “With your help, we will prevail.”

On Thursday morning, the Faculty Senate held a closed meeting with Carl Zeithaml, the newly installed interim president, but Cohen and his colleagues are standing their ground. After meeting with Ziethaml, the Executive Council of the Faculty Senate released a statement reaffirming its previous requests. The Senate is still calling for the reinstatement of Sullivan, the resignation of Rector Dragas, and the addition of faculty representatives on the Board of Visitors. As pressure mounts from faculty and students alike, all eyes are turned to Rector Dragas and the BOV to see their next move.

In addition, the Faculty Senate has sent a letter to Governor Robert McDonnell blasting the Board’s actions and reiterating demands for resignations. "Dean Carl Zeithaml is an enormously talented and highly respected academic leader, but we disagree with the Board’s decision to approve an interim president without faculty consultation," the letter reads.

Below is the full text of the Faculty Senate’s statement after meeting with Zeithaml:

Statement by The Executive Council of the Faculty Senate
June 21, 2012

This morning, the Executive Council of the Faculty Senate met with Dean Carl Zeithaml.
Given our responsibility to represent the faculty, we embarked on a broad discussion of the faculty’s concerns, including the circumstances surrounding the dismissal of President Sullivan, the Board of Visitors’ selection of Dean Zeithaml to be interim president, the structure of the Board of Visitors, the principle of shared faculty governance, and the future of the University.

The lines of communication remain open.

At this time, we continue to press for the requests we have previously stated, specifically:

1. The reinstatement of President Sullivan
2. The resignation of Rector Dragas
3. Faculty representation as voting members on the Board of Visitors.

 

Here’s the full text of the letter to Governor McDonnell: 

Thomas Jefferson considered the founding of the University of Virginia to be one of his most significant contributions to the American Republic. The University, he wrote, would be “based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind to explore and to expose every subject susceptible of its contemplation.” UVa is one of the nation’s most distinguished public universities. Here we teach, create knowledge, and train future leaders. We are bound to uphold the principles upon which Mr. Jefferson founded this University: “For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it.”

The forced resignation of Teresa Sullivan represents the most serious threat to the academic integrity, intellectual reputation, and national standing of the University in modern history. We agree with the Honor Committee that the failure of the Board of Visitors to provide a full and clear explanation of its decision has “created an environment that is inconsistent with the value of trust that runs through the very fabric of our University.”

As members of the faculty who are also loyal alumni of the University, our role as stewards gives us a special obligation to speak out when we believe this institution’s core values are at risk. We call upon Rector Helen Dragas to follow the Vice Rector’s lead and resign immediately. We also call for President Teresa Sullivan’s reinstatement. The Board has failed to follow proper procedures and has shown an utter disregard for the institution’s commitment to shared governance. President Sullivan was selected after a rigorous national search process that incorporated input from stakeholders across our community. She is beloved by faculty, students, staff, and alumni. She understands the financial challenges facing public higher education today – as well as the enduring values of honor, openness, and trust that cannot be compromised at any cost. Dean Carl Zeithaml is an enormously talented and highly respected academic leader, but we disagree with the Board’s decision to approve an interim president without faculty consultation. We call upon the Board of Visitors, our fellow alumni, and the people of the Commonwealth to restore the values that define our great University.

 

—Katy Nelson

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