In a near-unanimous vote, the Faculty Senate of the University of Virginia on Sunday passed a resolution put forward late last week by its Executive Council that expressed strong support of ousted University President Teresa Sullivan and a lack of confidence in the Board of Visitors that apparently orchestrated her resignation.
In a public meeting at the Darden School of Business auditorium that drew about 800 people, the Faculty Senate’s leaders explained their reasons for calling an emergency meeting and then called on their members to vote. All 50* senators present voted in favor of the resolution, and of the 21 proxy votes counted, there were only two "no" votes and a single abstention. When the resolution passed, the packed house responded with a long, loud standing ovation.
"Terry Sullivan has been the ultimate friend of faculty members," said Senate Executive Committee member and computer science professor Alfred Weaver. "She has supported transparency and openness."
By orchestrating Sullivan’s ouster secretly, the Board of Visitors did the opposite, he said. "The Board’s action is egregious, and it must be overturned."
Provost John Simon also drew thunderous applause at the start of the meeting when he told the assembled crowd that he was at a "defining moment" in his career as he contemplated how to respond to the sudden departure of the leader who hired him—even hinting he’d consider resigning himself.
"I find myself at a moment when the future of the University is at risk and what our political leadership value in the University is [is] no longer clear," he said. "I am now wondering whether my own beliefs about the values of higher education are consistent with our Board’s. The Board actions over the next few days will inform me as to whether the University of Virginia remains the type of institution I am willing to dedicate my efforts to help lead."
*An earlier version of this story said "all 15 senators". The correct number is 50.