Photograph courtesy Southwestern.edu.
Teresa Sullivan was reinstated as president of the University of Virginia on Tuesday, a little more than two weeks after the school's board ousted her from that position.
The school’s governing board voted unanimously to bring Sullivan back to lead the public university, reversing an earlier decision to force her out that angered many in the UVA community, prompting mass protests from faculty, students, and alumni.
The Washington Post reports that vote completed an "unprecedented cycle of events" that had "plunged the state flagship university into political chaos." Higher education leaders around the country said that they'd never before seen such a reversal. "This would be a new precedent," Molly Corbett Broad, president of the American Council on Education and former president of the University of North Carolina, told the paper.
While Tuesday's vote will likely bring an end to protests that lasted for 16 days, it is unlikely to undo the damage brought about by the board's original bid to send the school's popular president packing. The flagship university lost a string of wealthy donors during the ordeal, along with one board member and a leading computer scientist.
The board's attempt to force Sullivan out didn't take long to send her supporters—a group that appeared more or less to be everyone associated with UVA who did not sit on the decision-making panel—into a tizzy. The school community held numerous public demonstrations, and faculty members talked openly of mass defections. News of Sullivan's reinstatement was, as would be expected, quick to draw cheers on campus.
[Elsewhere in Slate, UVA professor Siva Vaidhyanathan explained following the original vote to show Sullivan the door that the events at the school "raise important questions about the future of higher education, the soul of the academic project, and the way we fund important public services."]