Home Education House Minority Leader David Toscano: Sullivan Firing Was “fundamentally flawed”

House Minority Leader David Toscano: Sullivan Firing Was “fundamentally flawed”


The following statement is from Virginia House Minority Leader David Toscano, who represents Charlottesville in the Virginia House of Delegates.  This situation is becoming more and more troubling every day. Where is Gov. McDonnell's leadership, exactly? Completely AWOL so far, as he's been in so many other areas since he took office in January 2010. #FAIL Also, see Sen. Donald McEachin’s thoughts in the comments section.




"I have spent significant time over the last week attempting to discover as many facts as I can involving the forced resignation of President Teresa Sullivan from the University of Virginia. My discussions have been with faculty members; members of the University community, including former administrators and Visitors; alumni; donors; students; members of the General Assembly; and current members of the Board of Visitors, including Rector Helen E. Dragas, who graciously agreed to meet with me and Senator Creigh Deeds, in my office last week. I have not spoken with Teresa Sullivan.


The more information I have gathered, the more troubling the action has become. Among my concerns are:

  • The forced resignation seems to have been engineered by a small number of people who arguably love the University, but who so misunderstand how change occurs within large complex institutions of higher education that their leadership is now questionable.
  • The so-called 'urgency' and 'existential threats' to the University that have served as justification by Rector Dragas and Vice Rector Mark J. Kington for their action is simply not borne out by the facts. Admittedly, the University has challenges, and they have clearly been indentified by President Sullivan in her May 3, 2012 memo to the Rector and Vice Rector (a memo that was not shared with all Board members). But these challenges were known at the time of her appointment, and President Sullivan had been implementing changes to address them.
  • The expression of 'no confidence" in the Board of Visitors passed by the Faculty Senate and statements expressing concern issued by numerous schools within the University.

My conclusion is simple and straight-forward — the process by which President Sullivan was forced to resign was fundamentally flawed, dramatically at odds with our history as the flagship University in the Commonwealth, and inconsistent with a transparent decision-making process required of a public University.


The action places the University at substantial peril, in the short and long term…[See the "flip" for the conclusion]

…It should be reversed; I call on the Board of Visitors to do so. If they will not, I encourage Governor McDonnell to do all in his power to assist the process.


If the decision is not reversed, the Governor should act appropriately to encourage the rejection of the forced resignation, and send a clear message of his displeasure by stating that he does not intend on reappointing Ms. Dragas and by calling on the Rector and Vice Rector to resign.


Jefferson once said that we should follow truth wherever it may lead and should not "tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it." The facts show that the forced resignation of President Sullivan is an error; it should be reversed.

  • Senator Donald McEachin Asks UVA Board for Openness and Transparency Over Removal of President Sullivan

    Henrico –  Senator A. Donald McEachin (D-Henrico) today released this statement about the removal of University of Virginia president Teresa Sullivan. Senator McEachin said, “The firing of University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan came as a surprise to me, as it did to many Virginians. Like them, I am concerned about the perceived lack of openness and explanation about this decision, and I urge the Board of Visitors to engage in serious dialogue with university faculty, staff, and students right away.

    “The University of Virginia is not only the flagship school of our renowned public higher education system, it contributes in innumerable other ways to the health and well-being of the Commonwealth. It produces doctors and nurses, attorneys, prosecutors and judges. The Darden School creates business leaders who then drive our economic engine. Finally, the rare beauty of the academical village and its ties to our third president, Thomas Jefferson, increase tourism and worldwide interest in Virginia.

    “As an alumnus of UVA, I believe that Mr. Jefferson’s university deserves world-class leadership, and that starts with honest dialogue and, most importantly, transparency about critical decisions within such a community of trust,” Senator McEachin concluded.