Former governor Tim Kaine (D) became the most prominent official to call for the University of Virginia to reinstate ousted president Teresa Sullivan on Thursday.
“I think they should offer to reinstate President Sullivan,” said Kaine (D), now a candidate for U.S. Senate. “I hope that she would accept that.”
And Kaine said much more in a telephone interview.
He blames all members of the Board of Visitors for failing to hold a meeting to discuss Sullivan’s departure and said if they had he’s sure they would not have removed her.
“There’s a board for a reason. Group decision making is better than the thoughts of any one person,” he said. “I think the entire board made a fundamental mistake in not having a meeting before making a decision of this magnitude, and I lay that at the entire board’s feet.”
During his term as governor from 2006-2010, Kaine appointed eight of the 15 voting members of the board, including Rector Helen Dragas, who has been under fire for two weeks for orchestrating the ouster.
“She is a very accomplished leader with a real passion for U-Va. and I appointed her for that reason,” he said. “This is a board...I know them all to be good people, accomplished people, who care deeply about U-Va., and I believe the same of the members that I didn’t appoint.”
Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) appointed the other members of the board.
“It’s clear that a number of the board members were saying they were not in the loop on the decision,” he said. “Others were saying that a fundamental piece of information, the strategic plan that President Sullivan had written, they had never been provided that plan and so, all of that would have naturally come out had they had a meeting.”
Kaine said he had not spoken to McDonnell or Dragas, but had spent days talking to current and former board members about the leadership crisis at U-Va.
“Governor McDonnell and I — I think we feel the same way about the procedural irregularity,” he said. “I mean, look, we each appointed members to this board, and we appointed good people to the board. It’s not a matter of their qualifications or their love for the university. I think his appointees are strong in that, just as mine were, but we both believe, just basing this on the governor’s comments, we both believe that procedurally, they didn’t handle it right. And again, in the absence of a meeting, if they just had had a meeting, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation.”