U.Va. Board of Visitors is forced to reinstate Pres. Sullivan
In yet another stunning turn of events, the University of Virginia Board of Visitors today unamimously voted to reinstate Teresa Sullivan as president, two weeks after she was obliged by Rector Helen Dragas to submit her resignation. This action came just eight days after the BOV's formal vote to dismiss Sullivan, amidst sharp protests, of which I was a part. As the controversy dragged on, and the depth of support for Sullivan became more evident, Gov. McDonnell issued an ultimatum to the BOV late last week, telling them to either resolve the situation immediately, or he would replace the BOV membership en masse. That blunt use of executive authority did the trick. From an official e-mail message sent out to U.Va. alumni late this afternoon:
"The Board of Visitors rescinds the Second Amendment to the President's Employment Agreement, subject to the approval and acceptance of the President, thereby reinstating the President's initial Employment Agreement of January 11, 2010, as amended by the First Amendment to the Employment Agreement; and further
"The Board of Visitors rescinds the naming of Carl P. Zeithaml as Interim President of the University, and rescinds the authority previously granted to the Executive Committee to negotiate and execute a contract or employment agreement with the Interim President."
Obviously, it is wonderful news for the university, but it by no means signifies that the painful budget dilemmas which brought about the original BOV action are behind us. What needs to happen is an increase in funding from the state government, probably necessitating a hike in taxes, and an across-the-board pay cut for all U.Va. faculty and staff, perhaps two percent. Ideally, such a cut would be voluntary. As long as the sacrifice is broadly shared, this near-tragedy can become an opportunity for renewal of the University's mission.
The big question now is whether Gov. McDonnell will appoint Ms. Dragas to another four-year term on the BOV. One might think that her clumsy handling of this fiasco would automatically disqualify her from consideration, but the way politics in Virginia works, it may well be that her change of heart about keeping Teresa Sullivan may have been part of a tacit quid pro quo.
[UPDATE: For more information on this decision, see virginia.edu.]
Commerce Secretary quits
After being charged with hit and run driving in San Gabriel, California, Secretary of Commerce John Bryson took a temporary leave of absence while undergoing tests (see commerce.gov), but he has now officially vacated that position for good. In his stead, Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank is serving as Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary. She did likewise last year from August 1, when the previous Commerce Secretary Gary Locke resigned to become U.S. Ambassador to China, until October 21, when John Bryson was sworn in.
Earlier this month I updated the Cabinet table on the Politics blog page to reflect the fact that John Bryson replaced Gary Locke as Secretary of Commerce last October, and that Leon Panetta replaced Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense in January 2011. That table will need to be updated as soon as a replacement for Bryson is nominated by President Obama and (presumably) confirmed by the Senate. While doing further checking, I discovered that Obama's original National Security Adviser James Jones was replaced by Thomas Donilon in October 2010, and the position of energy / environmental policy czar was never filled after Carol Browner resigned in March 2011. (She is still on the list of Obama's Czars on freerepublic.com as of this past January, however, suggesting that the list is outdated.) Finally, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Web site is no lo longer "agriculture.gov," but is now usda.gov
Photos of local pols
On the semi-new Spring 2012 photo gallery, there is a shot of Emmett Hanger making a speech on the Senate floor, as well as a shot of Delegates Dickie Bell and Ben Cline in a House session. Those photos were taken during my U.S. Government class field trip to the state Capitol on February 23. And while I was updating the Autumn 2011 photo gallery, I added a shot of Delegates Steve Landes and Dickie Bell walking along Beverley Street in Staunton's Veterans Day parade.