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Locals support ousted leader
Area U.Va. alumni say they hope the university's president will be reinstated today.

Date published: 6/26/2012

By Jeff Branscome

BY CHELYEN DAVIS

Fredericksburg-area alumni of the University of Virginia say they were startled when the university's board of visitors asked President Teresa Sullivan to resign, and hope to see her reinstated when the board meets today.

"I think it was handled as poorly as any situation could be handled," said Charles W. McDaniel, president of Hilldrup Cos. in Stafford County. "I think [Rector Helen Dragas] got persuaded by some very influential alumni to push this situation without proper [discussions] or time. It reeks of political maneuvering and power players."

McDaniel and his wife, Tricia, both U.Va. alumni, co-chaired the U.Va. Parents Committee last year and interacted with Sullivan on several occasions.

"Our impression was that she was involved in all aspects of the university and was moving forward in a very positive direction," Tricia McDaniel said in an email. "Until receiving the email from Helen Dragas, we had not heard one negative comment regarding her performance."

Charles McDaniel said he supports the way Virginia colleges are run, and the governor's prerogative to appoint board members, even though that can lead to politicization.

But, he said, the structure needs enough tweaks to ensure more transparency and accountability.

"A decision like this cannot be made like it was made, with a very small committee," McDaniel said, adding that he'd like to see a faculty member added to the board of visitors.

Former University of Mary Washington Rector Nanalou Sauder said U.Va.'s board of visitors should have been more considerate of the school's various constituencies.

"You have to be careful what you do say, but it's always better for the public who support the institution to know what's going on--not be blindsided," she said.

During Sauder's tenure on Mary Washington's board of visitors, a president was fired and a another abruptly resigned after just two years in the position. But she said former UMW President Judy Hample's resignation was different from the U.Va. controversy.

"We were not dismissing a president," she said of Hample's decision to quit. "The president decided to go, and that made it a whole lot different from what the University of Virginia is doing."


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