University of Virginia president Teresa Sullivan has lost her job due to behind-the-scenes dealings from a billionaire hedge fund manager who accidentally announced his role in an e-mail sent to university supporters.
Peter Kiernan, who abruptly resigned from the foundation board at the university’s Darden School of Business, had written an e-mail in which he claimed responsibility for the president’s dismissal, Slate reported. Sullivan was fired from the University of Virginia last week.
Kiernan has earned a reputation for his generous support to the University of Virginia and for his opinionated views on business and politics. He recently published a book called Becoming China’s Bitch, in which he proposed solutions to issues facing the United States like education and foreign policy.
He did not act alone in his bid to remove Sullivan from her position. The head of the university’s board of trustees, Helen Dragas, stood by the decision to oust the president but acknowledge that the board failed to explain the dismissal, the New York Times reported. She offered no further rationale.
Kiernan’s e-mail, which he inadvertently sent out to a large group of Darden School supporters, acknowledged that he had been contacted by alums about getting rid of Sullivan and had been working with Dragas on how the search for a new leader would unfold, Slate reported. Even in her e-mail announcing the firing, Dragas seems to acknowledge that Sullivan did nothing wrong, saying “the board feels strongly and overwhelmingly that we need bold and proactive leadership on tackling the difficult issues that we face.”
A popular figure, Sullivan has earned the support of students and alumni since the dismissal. A crowd of supporters gathered when she met with the board, a meeting in which she chided them for their lack of communication.
“Trust does not mean an absence of disagreement,” Sullivan said in a statement delivered to the board. “But it requires that disagreements be frankly discussed. No matter how accomplished he or she may be, a president cannot read minds. When you choose a new president, tell him or her what you are thinking.”
The now-former University of Virginia president said other institutions will move to steal talented faculty and administrators from UV because of the turmoil.
Sullivan appears to have faculty members on her side. This week University of Virginia faculty leaders spoke out demanding that the board reinstate Sullivan, WSET-TV reported.