University of Texas
1:50 pm
Mon June 18, 2012

Former UT Prof at Center of Higher Ed Storm

A University of Texas professor is at the center of controversy in her new home at the University of Virginia, where until just recently she was president of the school. 

Teresa A. Sullivan taught for decades at UT-Austin, ultimately rising to Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs for the UT System. In the summer of August 2010, she was named president of the University of Virginia (UVA).

It was a position she held without apparent controversy – until news broke she was stepping down from her position, apparently under pressure, eight days ago.

In a way, the controversy in Virginia recalls a similar action closer to home: rumors that University of Texas president Bill Powers had been marked for ouster by the school’s Board of Regents. Speculation regarding Powers’ job grew after he clashed with the board after it declined to approve a tuition increase Powers sought.

At UVA, members of the university’s governing body, the Board of Visitors, have remained tight-lipped as to the reason for Sullivan’s departure. But an email from UVA business school foundation chair Peter D. Kiernan seemed to hint at his involvement in forcing the resignation, saying he played a "modest role." In the email, Kiernan notes a call from business school donors’ for increased  “strategic dynamism” and more focus on “dramatic changes we all face: funding, internet, technology advances, the new economic model.” (After the email came to light, Kiernan himself resigned from the board of UVA's business school.)

A current UVA professor that also worked under Sullivan during her tenure at Texas speculates that the move is a sign of attempts to move the university in a more proft-driven direction.

You can read a timeline of the controversy on community weblog MetaFilter.