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Virginia Politics
Posted at 01:01 PM ET, 06/25/2012

Legislators — Democrats anyway — call for U-Va. president’s reinstatement


Nursing student Michael Swanberg shows his support for UVA's ousted president Teresa Sullivan during a June 24 rally. (Jay Paul for The Washington Post)
Legislators who are alumni of the University of Virginia sent a letter to the Board of Visitors about the leadership crisis at the school.

But of the 18 U-Va. graduates in the Virginia General Assembly, only Democrats signed the letter.

Is it partisan politics at work? Democrats say yes. Republicans say no.

The letter, which calls for President Teresa Sullivan to be reinstated, was signed by House Minority Leader David Toscano (Charlottesville) and seven others in the House and Senate.

Republicans, including Speaker William Howell (R-Stafford), did not sign. (But Del. Robert Bell (R-Albemarle), who represents the area, sent his own letter calling for Sullivan to be reinstated.)

Del. Tom Rust (R-Fairfax), who spent years serving on the Virginia Tech and Longwood boards, said party affiliation has nothing to do with it.

“It’s inappropriate for the General Assembly to get involved,’’ he said. “It sets a bad precedent.”

Check out the letter below:

June 22, 2012
An Open Letter to Helen E. Dragas, Rector University of Virginia
As graduates of the University of Virginia and current members of Virginia’s General Assembly, we have watched with dismay the events surrounding the forced resignation of President Teresa Sullivan from the University of Virginia.
The more information that has become available, the more troubling the action has become. The Board has yet to make clear the so-called “urgency” and “existential threats” to the University that have served as the justification for this action.  Admittedly, the University has challenges, and they have clearly been identified by President Sullivan in her May 3, 2012 memo to the Rector and Vice Rector (a memo circulated by the Washington Post). But these challenges were known at the time of her appointment, and President Sullivan appeared to be making plans to address them.
The fallout of the action is being felt by faculty and alumni alike.   First, there was the vote of “no confidence” in the Board of Visitors passed by the Faculty Senate.   Second, there were the reports that major donors are withdrawing their support of the University.  Third, there are the resignations of several faculty “stars” and prospects of more in the near future.  Finally, Vice-Rector Mark Kington’s resignation raises further questions about the process.
Our conclusion is simple — the process by which President Sullivan was forced to resign was fundamentally flawed, dramatically at odds with our principles as the flagship University in the Commonwealth, and inconsistent with a transparent decision-making process required of a public University.
We call on you to reconsider the decision and reconvene the Board for the purpose of reversing the forced resignation.
We know you love this University and believe that the Board has simply misjudged the effect of this action.   Now, you have the chance to limit this damage.  We hope you will do so. 

By  |  01:01 PM ET, 06/25/2012

 
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