Ouster of U-Va president, donors threaten to withhold funds
The ouster of President Teresa Sullivan of University of Virginia has caused outrage amongst some donors. A top donor at the university said she plans to withhold future contributions unless members of the school’s governing board responsible for Sullivan’s ouster are removed. Another donor said she is concerned about her family’s investment of more than $170 million over the years to the historic campus. University officials expect more donors to pull back as other smaller donors have already withdrawn pledges totaling thousands of dollars.
In an interview on Sunday, Hunter Smith of Charlottesville said, “It hurts me because I had two or three things I wanted to get done. I won’t condone what happened. It’s disgraceful.” Sullivan’s brief tenure in effect ended a week ago after Helen E. Dragas, the leader of U-Va’s Board of Visitors, told the extremely popular president that she had enough votes to remove her. Instead of the Board of Visitors meeting with or taking note to vote on Sullivan’s ouster, Dragas spoke to board members privately over a series of months, which is not against the law. However, President of the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges Rick Legon said it’s highly unusual for a school to make the choice to remove its president behind closed doors without a formal meeting. Virginia Governor Robert F. McDonnell has been urged to get involved, but resisted, saying he had no intention of “meddling” in the board’s business.