Backlash at U.Va. heads into second week, donors make threats

Posted at 9:46 PM, Jun 17, 2012
and last updated 2012-06-18 08:44:25-04

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.(WTVR)--Criticism of the seemingly abrupt ousting of President Sullivan continues to grow and will likely head into a second week, with drama developing daily.

On Sunday night, a crowd of 800 University of Virginia students, faculty members, and Charlottesville residents packed into the auditorium at Darden Business School to discuss the Senate Faculty Committee's meeting with the Board of Visitors.

That meeting will occur Monday at 9 a.m., reports WCAV who also said that there is a student protest planned tomorrow.

Tonight, the Faculty Senate met and approved the no-confidence vote already passed by its executive council—stating support for Sullivan.

In the resolution the executive committee stated that they support President Sullivan and have a "lack of confidence" for the Board of Visitors. Criticism has surfaced due to “the lack of information given by the Board of Visitors,” concerning the ousting of Sullivan.

The U.Va. Provost John Simon stood tonight against the ouster of Sullivan, and told the Faculty Senate that the “next few days will inform” his stance on whether the institution is one he wants to help lead, reported the Richmond-Times Dispatch.

Simon addressed the crowd saying this is a "defining moment" and the actions in the past week have forced him to question the honor, integrity and trust of U.Va.'s governing body.

For some members for the faculty and Faculty Senate, the issue is highly personal and emotional.

"But, you know, there is a moment when, not unlike what Provost Simon said, there is a moment when you kind of draw the line in the sand and you say, this is what I believe and if it makes me weep, I don't care," Gweneth West, Faculty Senate and Drama Professor said.

The vote Sunday night was 68-2, in condemnation of the Board of Visitors decision to oust Sullivan.

Simon is reported to be the “senior most administrator to speak out about the course of action."

The Daily Progress, in Charlottesville, reported that Sullivan’s philosophy’s on paper seemed in line with the Board of Visitors, and cited a fundraising slump as a possibility for the turn of events.

Fundraising could now become an even bigger challenge, with The Washington Post is reporting that a top donor to the university wants the Board of Visitors held accountable for the ousting and will withhold future contributions until they are removed.

The WaPo also reports that other donors have withdrawn pledges. Hunter Smith told the paper that she and her late husband have donated more than $60 million and will not donate any more unless changes to the board are made.