“We just feel that he has a unique skill set, considering the challenges we face,” Vice Rector Mark Kington said before the vote. The tally was not unanimous: board member Heywood Fralin voted against the appointment, and Robert Hardie and A. Macdonald Caputo abstained. Another member, Glynn Key, was absent.
Zeithaml has a bachelor’s in economics from Notre Dame, a master’s in health and hospital administration from the University of Florida and a doctorate in strategic management from the University of Maryland. He has worked at U-Va. for 15 years, with previous stints at the University of North Carolina, the University of Maryland and Texas A&M. A biographical sketch says he has led McIntire to global preeminence in business education.
The vote on the interim president came after Sullivan met with the board on Monday and delivered a sharp defense of her two-year tenure, her first significant comments since her ouster became public June 10. Sullivan was cheered and supported by more than 2,000 demonstrators who gathered on the Lawn in front of the Rotunda.
“I did not cause this reaction in the last 10 days,” Sullivan said in a statement, “but perhaps the reaction speaks to the depth of the connections I have made in the last 22 months.”
In public remarks Monday, the leader of the board, Rector Helen E. Dragas, sought a resolute but contrite tone. She expressed regret — not for removing Sullivan, but for how the transition was executed.
The board sought Sullivan’s resignation without a formal meeting or vote, through a campaign waged privately by Dragas, Vice Rector Mark Kington and a few others, according to several people in contact with the board. The episode plunged the campus into turmoil, from which it has yet to recover.
“We certainly never wished nor intended to ignite such a reaction from the community of trust and honor that we all love so dearly,” Dragas read from a prepared statement. “You — our U-Va. family — deserved better from this board, and we have heard your concerns loud and clear.”
But Dragas added: “The Board of Visitors exists to make these kinds of judgments on behalf of all the constituencies of the university. . . . Simply put, we have the responsibility, on behalf of the entire community, to make these important and often difficult calls.”
Protesters packed the Lawn, a mix of students, professors, toddlers and doctors in lab coats. One young man held a sign that read, “Emperor Dragas, Darth Kington don’t speak for me.”
A sharp critique came from John T. Casteen, the revered 20-year president of U-Va. Sullivan’s predecessor arrived on the Lawn to thunderous applause. Casteen had urged the board — in vain — to hold Monday’s meeting in public, saying it was what the public deserved.