We all know Mitt Romney likes being able to fire people who provide him with bad service. Turns out a potential running mate enjoys the power of the pink slip, too.

(Bob Brown/AP)

“My role in this was to ensure that we had finality and that we had some sense of a unified message for the future of the University of Virginia after the board meeting yesterday,” McDonnell said in comments to reporters after an unrelated bill-signing in Richmond. “And I think telling them to get the job done or they’re fired was helpful in creating that message yesterday.

“I think there’s a real opportunity, since there’s been some candid discussion about issues for higher education, that this can be a real important moment where administrators and faculty can work together with boards and alumni to forge a clear, bright, productive and entrepreneurial path ahead for education.”

McDonnell disclosed that after the board’s vote Tuesday, he phoned both Sullivan and Rector Helen E. Dragas, who had orchestrated the president’s ouster but later voted with the rest of the board to reinstate her.

“I’m glad that they got the job done and they did it in a unanimous fashion,” he said of the board. “I thought it was very good to have the rector and president walk in [to the board meeting] together. Both of them made good statements and set the tone for working together in the future.”

McDonnell declined to comment on any appointments or reappointments to the board. Dragas’s term ends July 1.

“We’ll have those announcements in the next few days,” he said.