The board will meet at 3 p.m. Tuesday to discuss “possible changes in the terms of employment of the president,” according to a notice released Thursday afternoon.
The move comes after nearly two weeks of protests by many faculty, students, alumni and donors over the removal of Sullivan. Under the terms of the forced resignation, she is scheduled to step down Aug. 15.
On Thursday, Rector Helen E. Dragas, leader of the board, issued a statement defending the decision to replace the president. She said a leadership transition was necessary to ensure that the university addresses major challenges, warning that without a new strategic plan, U-Va. “will continue to drift in yesterday.”
But former governor Timothy M. Kaine (D) said the board should keep Sullivan.
During his term, Kaine appointed eight of the 15 voting members of the board, including Dragas.
“I think they should offer to reinstate President Sullivan,” said Kaine, now a candidate for U.S. Senate. “I hope that she would accept that.”
Sullivan has informed board members through an intermediary that she wants to remain president if certain conditions are met, said current and former members. Those conditions include the resignation of Dragas and better communication with the board.
Also Thursday, Sullivan issued a statement urging the campus to remain civil. She lamented what she called “abusive language” aimed at the incoming interim president, Carl P. Zeithaml, as well as at board members.
“I know that emotions are running high on Grounds, but there is no excuse for abusing anyone with whom you disagree,” Sullivan said in a statement.
Sullivan and her attorney, Raymond Cotton, declined to comment on her possible reinstatement.
Sullivan’s supporters are eager to have a vote before the end of June, when the makeup of the board will change. At least three members will be new. Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) has the option of reappointing two more, including Dragas.
Several board members, along with a handful of other insiders, have spent the past few days negotiating a possible Sullivan reinstatement. They said they would call a meeting only if they had the necessary votes.
Sullivan’s supporters appear to need eight votes to reinstate her because Mark J. Kington, the vice rector who teamed with Dragas to orchestrate Sullivan’s ouster, resigned Tuesday, leaving 15 voting members.
At one point during a closed board meeting that stretched from Monday into Tuesday, allies of Sullivan’s seemed to have had the support of eight members on the board, according to several people briefed on the session who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter. But because Kington had not yet resigned his seat, nine votes would have been necessary at that time to reinstate Sullivan.