UVA Rector John Wynne welcomed Teresa Sullivan to the University community on Monday, January 11 as the eighth UVA president. Sullivan succeeds current President John Casteen, who announced his retirement last June after 20 years at the helm of the University.
Teresa Sullivan was unanimously selected by the Board of Visitors as the eighth president of UVA on Monday, January 11. She hails from the University of Michigan were she serves as the provost, executive vice president for academic affairs and chief budget officer. “I bring my dedication, extensive experience, and above all my passion for the task ahead of us,” she said. “I welcome this wonderful opportunity to be a part of the University of Virginia as it contributes to the progress of Virginia, the nation and the world.”
In a sense, there is no escaping Casteen’s legacy. “The University of Virginia has enjoyed strong leadership in John Casteen for the past two decades. We have achieved a great deal in John’s time,” said Wynne. The thought hasn’t escaped Sullivan, either.
“He will be a hard act to follow, yet I venture to say that he would prefer that we pursue the course that he has charted, rather than try to march in his footsteps,” she said in her remarks.
Yet, by all accounts, Sullivan will likely steer the University in her own way.
“We have been extremely fortunate to have presidents here who have been exactly right for their time in history,” says UVA COO Leonard Sandridge via e-mail. “Each provided leadership that met the needs of their term in office. President-elect Sullivan will be that leader for the next chapter in our history.”
Sullivan, 60, who is a leading labor force demographer, currently serves as provost, executive vice president for academic affairs and chief budget officer at the University of Michigan. She is also on the board of the college’s health system. Sullivan is a graduate of James Madison College at Michigan State University and received her doctorate in Sociology from the University of Chicago in 1975.
Prior to joining the ranks in Ann Arbor in 2006, Sullivan spent 27 years at University of Texas at Austin, where in 2002 she was named executive vice chancellor for academic affairs for the university system.
In a statement, University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman says that Sullivan is “both a distinguished academic and stellar administrator, known for her sparkling intellect as well as her superb people skills. She has won the utmost respect of the faculty and the administration for her inclusive management style and her strong leadership. Working with her has been one of the highlights of my career, and although we will all miss her, we take pride in knowing that she will preside over one of the nation’s great public universities.”
Click here for a comparison of Sullivan’s old position versus new.
Sullivan is also a prolific scholar. “Leading a public university is a hard challenge,” says Faculty Senate Chairwoman Ann Hamric. “And she’s got experience in every facet of what we do here at UVA, which is really quite extraordinary.”
Sullivan will also be the first female president at UVA. Hamric says that her selection was a statement that the University was looking for the “very best person to lead UVA,” she says. “I think she is going to bring changes by force of her personality and her style of leadership, because she will bring her own way of doing things and that’s probably more important than any gender-related change.”
In August, Sullivan will inherit a capital campaign, ever-declining state support and tuition increases. It may not, however, be an unfamiliar situation. Just as she joined Michigan six years into the school’s $2.5 billion “Michigan Difference” campaign (which ultimately raised $3.2 billion), Sullivan, as provost and chief budget officer, dealt with a decrease in state funding that has amounted to 10 percent in 10 years.
UVA, in its own right, is facing a first: This year, for the first time in the history of the University, “an in-state student is now paying more to come to the University of Virginia than the state is supplying in terms of assistance,” said Colette Sheehy, UVA vice president for management and budget, at a November Board of Visitors meeting.
Casteen, who was not present on the day of the public announcement, welcomed Sullivan in a letter. “So welcome and godspeed in this beginning,” he writes. “May your years here be times of success and satisfaction. May you and your family find here generosity, goodness, and human talents to make the exertions of your position worthwhile, and much more.”
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