To the University Community:
I am writing on behalf of the faculty and staff of the University of Virginia Women’s Center. We fully support the reinstatement of President Teresa Sullivan.
It is not her gender that makes President Sullivan an extraordinary leader. She is recognized for her strong, caring, and boldly imaginative approach to change and complexity. But it is worth noting the impact of diversity when it is at the highest levels.
President Sullivan’s participation in the celebration of women employees of the University who receive the Zintl Leadership Award has made a great difference in the message of appreciation sent by the University. Her enthusiastic presence at the latest Women Faculty Mentoring Dinner was wonderful: she joined in the networking and mentoring of women faculty and their graduate student mentees from across Grounds.
Her presence at the Distinguished Alumna Award ceremony, which recognizes the remarkable achievements of women graduates of the University of Virginia, sends a signal: today there is not only full inclusion of women at this university, which delayed admitting women into the College until 1970, but also great pride in these women graduates.
When I have attended President Sullivan’s events for alumnae in cities across the country, the attending women graduates have shown a reciprocal pride that their alma mater is being led by a remarkable woman leader. Their enthusiasm has been directed toward President Sullivan herself. They are clearly proud, also, that the University of Virginia, with its specific history, can see past gender to the true qualities of a leader.
I remember being at an executive training at Bryn Mawr and being asked to state my own vision of a university president. This was in the 1980’s: as an alumna, I could not imagine a woman being president of the University of Virginia. It is obvious that President Sullivan is an example of the highest leadership for both female and male students.
We at the Women’s Center appreciate the clarity and power of the Faculty Senate's words and actions regarding President Sullivan. We applaud the recent movement of the Senate and others toward direct public protest.
We thank Vice President Marcus Martin, faculty, students, alumni, friends, and community members who have shown their support for the reinstatement of Teresa Sullivan as President of the University of Virginia.
We offer our service in any way that it is needed as this movement for reinstatement goes forward.
Change is possible.
Sharon Davie, Director
University of Virginia Women’s Center
Photo by Betty Mooney