Welcome to Mr. Jefferson’s U, Madame President

Big news coming out of Charlottesville this afternoon.  Today, the University of Virginia, Eduflack’s alma mater, officially announced that Dr. Teresa A. Sullivan would become the eight president of Mr. Jefferson’s University, following two decades of terrific leadership by John T. Casteen III.  Dr. Sullivan assumes the post August 1.

Sullivan brings the pedigree we would expect for the top public university in the nation.  She joins U.Va. after serving as provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at the University of Michigan.  She previously spent nearly 30 years at the University of Texas system, rising to the post of executive vice chancellor for academic affairs.  And for the record, she holds a doctorate from the University of Chicago (too bad it wasn’t from Virginia), with her scholarship focused on labor force demography.
She is going to have HUGE shoes to fill.  President Casteen has been one of those leaders that so many institutions dream about.  A steady hand at the helm for 20 years, Casteen kept U.Va. as a top public Ivy throughout his tenure, weathering massive budget cuts from the state.  With less than 10 percent of his funding coming from the Commonwealth, Casteen has continually grown the University, building new buildings, recruiting top professors, and strengthening the overall institutional brand.  He even had U.Va. football ranked number one in the country (albeit briefly).  And Casteen is a triple Hoo to boot (B.A., M.A., and Ph.D.).
But perhaps even more impressive are the two capital campaigns Casteen has led for the University, raising billions of dollars to ensure our position as one of the top universities in the nation.  So as Sullivan sits down in the big chair, the alumni network likely expects to see fundraising continue, U.Va. atop the US News rankings, and some national championships, preferably in football and basketball.
President Sullivan carries even more baggage when she looks at the history before her.  She will be the eighth president for a university founded nearly two centuries ago (granted, there was no official U.Va. president for the institution’s first 80 years).  More importantly, she is the first woman to serve as president of the University, an institution that did not go coed until only four decades ago.  In fact, Sullivan officially takes over a month before the 40-year anniversary of the first class of undergraduate women at the University’s College of Arts & Sciences.
Across the nation and around the world, Virginia alumni should be proud.  Proud of the legacy Dr. Casteen has left.  Proud of the history the Board of Visitors has made by selecting Teresa Sullivan.  And proud of the opportunities now before us.  Today is a proud day for Mr. Jefferson’s University.

11 thoughts on “Welcome to Mr. Jefferson’s U, Madame President

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