Controversy over the removal of University of Virginia’s president, Teresa Sullivan has caused some top donors to withhold contributions unless the members of the governing board responsible for ousting the president are removed, reports The Washington Post.
The popular president’s two-year tenure ended a week ago when the leader of the Board of Visitors, Helen E. Dragas, told Ms. Sullivan she had gathered enough votes to remove her. The Board of Visitors never met to vote on the ouster. Instead, Ms. Dragas and her team spoke to board members individually over several months.
Discussion about removing Ms. Sullivan began over her unwillingness to consider program cuts that the board said were needed to combat the university’s dwindling resources, said the Post.
Jane Batten, of Virginia Beach, whose family has a given the university $170-million and is possibly its biggest donor, said: “There may be good reason to replace President Sullivan—I don’t know—but it was handled in the worst possible way that has caused damage to the university.”
Hunter Smith of Charlottesville, who, with her late husband, has given $60-million, wants to see changes made to the board before she will donate again.
According to Robert Sweeney, senior vice president for development, 15 donors have rescinded pledges. The largest is for $5,000.