Teresa A. Sullivan

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Teresa A. Sullivan
Teresa A. Sullivan.jpg
Interim Provost of Michigan State University
In office
October 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020
8th President of the University of Virginia
In office
August 1, 2010 – July 31, 2018
Preceded byJohn T. Casteen III
Succeeded byJames Ryan
Provost of the University of Michigan
In office
June 1, 2006 – July 1, 2010
Preceded byPaul Courant
Succeeded byPhilip J. Hanlon
Personal details
Teresa Ann Sullivan

(1949-07-09) July 9, 1949 (age 70)
Kewanee, Illinois[1]
Douglas Laycock (m. 1971)
Alma materMichigan State University
University of Chicago
ProfessionSociologist, Professor
WebsitePresident Emerita website

Teresa Ann "Terry" Sullivan (born July 9, 1949) is the Interim Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs of Michigan State University. She is a retired American sociologist and university administrator and previously served as the President of the University of Virginia from August 1, 2010 until July 31, 2018.[2]

Early life[edit]

Sullivan was born on July 9, 1949.[1] She received her undergraduate degree from Michigan State University's James Madison College, where she was asked to stay on as an intern in the office of the president by Clifton R. Wharton Jr., then the president. She completed her Ph.D. at the University of Chicago.[1]


She joined the faculty of the University of Texas as an instructor in sociology. At Texas, she held a variety of academic and administrative posts, including the chair of the sociology department, vice provost, and vice president and dean of graduate studies.[3] She then served as the Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of Michigan.

Sullivan has written or cowritten six books and over 80 scholarly articles in sociology.[4] In 1990, she co-authored The Social Organization of Work with Randy Hodson, which was described as a "pathbreaking textbook in the sociology of work" by Daniel B. Cornfield.[5] She is an elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.[6]

Presidency of the University of Virginia[edit]

Sullivan was unanimously elected on January 11, 2010, and became the University's first female president on August 1, 2010.[3] However, on June 10, 2012, it was announced to the University that Sullivan would step down from her position on August 15, 2012, after serving only two years of a five-year contract. Leaders of the university’s governing board decided to remove Sullivan, "largely because of her unwillingness to consider dramatic program cuts in the face of dwindling resources and for her perceived reluctance to approach the school with the bottom-line mentality of a corporate chief executive".[7] Counterpunch presented the dispute as being more about differing views of the academic culture and future direction of the university than immediate financial concerns; whether less popular traditional-classical academic studies should be cut, with funding refocused on more profitable and business-oriented courses and programs.[8]Later news reports presented the resignation as an "ouster" organized by Helen Dragas, rector of the university's Board of Visitors; with strong suggestions of Dragas' conflicting views of the future of the university, and personal ambitions playing a role in her actions.[7] Although a formal meeting and vote of the full board was not held at the time, Sullivan was presented with the news of her loss of majority support within the board, and given the 'opportunity' to resign.

The public announcement of her resignation was communicated via an email by Dragas on behalf of the Board of Visitors. The message quoted from Sullivan's resignation letter and cited "philosophical differences" on how the University was to be run. Large-scale protest against the action, and support for Sullivan from students, faculty, alumni, as well as the national academic community, resulted, including a faculty senate demand for the removal of the Board of Visitors leaders – Rector Helen Dragas and Vice Rector Mark J. Kington[9] – and demands from the student government for an explanation for the ouster.[10] In the face of this pressure, including a statement from Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell that he would remove the entire board if they failed to resolve the issue at their June 26 meeting,[11] the board unanimously voted to reinstate Sullivan as president.[12][13]

Shortly after the 2014 publication of the later debunked story A Rape on Campus, Sullivan suspended all Greek organizations until January 9, 2015.[14] In January 2015 Sullivan acknowledged that the story was "discredited." She said, "Before the Rolling Stone story was discredited, it seemed to resonate with some people simply because it confirmed their darkest suspicions about universities—that administrations are corrupt; that today's students are reckless and irresponsible; that fraternities are hot-beds of deviant behavior."[15][16][17]

In January 2017, Sullivan announced her intention to retire effective September 30, 2018. She was succeeded by James Ryan on August 1, 2018 [18]

Interim Provost of Michigan State University[edit]

On September 16, 2019, Michigan State University named Sullivan as the new interim provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, effective October 1, 2019, serving through the end of the academic year.

Personal life[edit]

Sullivan is married to legal scholar Douglas Laycock.[1][19]


  1. ^ a b c d "President Sullivan Ushers In a New Era at U.Va". UVA Today. August 1, 2010. Archived from the original on December 12, 2012. Retrieved August 1, 2010.
  2. ^ "President Ryan's First Day in Office, Told Through Photos". August 1, 2018. Retrieved August 12, 2018.
  3. ^ a b "Teresa A. Sullivan, Extraordinary Leader and Respected Scholar, to Become Eighth President of U.Va". UVa Today. January 11, 2010. Archived from the original on August 5, 2012. Retrieved January 12, 2010.
  4. ^ De Vise, Daniel (January 11, 2010). "University of Virginia picks its first female president". Washington Post.
  5. ^ Cornfield, Daniel B. (2016). "Randy Hodson, Agent of a New Sociology of Work: Remembrance, Reflection, and Celebration.". In Keister, Lisa A.; Roscigno, Vincent J. (eds.). A Gedenkschrift to Randy Hodson: Working with Dignity. Bingley, U.K.: Emerald Publishing. pp. xvii–xxv. ISBN 9781785607264. OCLC 1000472321.
  6. ^ "President Teresa A. Sullivan Inducted Into American Academy of Arts and Sciences". News.virginia.edu. October 10, 2015. Retrieved October 1, 2017.
  7. ^ a b Daniel de Vise and Anita Kumar, "U-Va. Faculty Senate to meet in emergency session Sunday over Teresa Sullivan’s ouster", Washington Post, June 17, 2012
  8. ^ Surin, Kenneth. Virginia Politicians and the Slow Strangulation of Its Famous State University (January 2, 2017), CounterPunch
  9. ^ Associated Press (June 18, 2012). "University of Virginia asks rector, vice rector to resign after president's ouster". Retrieved June 19, 2012.
  10. ^ Karin Kapsidelis (June 15, 2012). "U.Va. Student Council seeks full explanation of ouster". Richmond Times-Dispatch. Archived from the original on February 5, 2013. Retrieved June 19, 2012.
  11. ^ Anita Kumar & Jenna Johnson (June 22, 2012). "McDonnell tells U-Va. board to resolve leadership crisis, or he will remove members". Washington Post. Retrieved June 26, 2012.
  12. ^ Sara Hebel; Jack Stripling & Robin Wilson (June 26, 2012). "U. of Virginia Board Votes to Reinstate Sullivan". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved June 26, 2012.
  13. ^ The Associated Press (June 26, 2012). "University of Virginia Board Reinstates President". The New York Times. Retrieved June 26, 2012.
  14. ^ DeBonis, Mike; Shapiro, T. Rees (November 22, 2014), "U-Va president suspends fraternities until Jan. 9 in wake of rape allegations", The Washington Post, archived from the original on April 24, 2016, retrieved April 2, 2016
  15. ^ "Prepared Remarks for Presidential Address on the University" (Press release). University of Virginia. January 30, 2015. Archived from the original on January 31, 2015. Retrieved January 30, 2015.
  16. ^ Schow, Ashe (January 30, 2015). "U.Va. president admits rape story was false; keeps restrictions on fraternities". Washington Examiner. Archived from the original on January 31, 2015. Retrieved January 31, 2015.
  17. ^ https://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/UVa-President-School-to-Be-National-Leader-on-Campus-Safety-290399841.html
  18. ^ "Board of Visitors Selects James Ryan as University of Virginia's Next President". UVA Today. September 15, 2017. Retrieved September 16, 2017.
  19. ^ Colleen Flaherty, Transparency vs. Censorship, Inside Higher Ed, May 29, 2014

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
John T. Casteen III
President of the University of Virginia
Succeeded by
James Ryan
Preceded by
Paul N. Courant
Provost of the University of Michigan
Succeeded by
Philip J. Hanlon