Tim Kaine says Teresa Sullivan reinstatement would be 'justice'

Kaine called the way Sullivan was removed from her position 'a tragedy.' Photo: Associated Press

United States Senate hopeful and former Virginia Governor Tim Kaine said it would be "justice” if former University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan were reinstated.

Kaine stopped short of calling for rector Helen Dragas’ resignation. He said that decision should be left up to the board.

But Kaine, speaking only to ABC 7, is calling the upheaval at the University of Virginia "tragic" and said that the school's board made a mistake by making a decision of this magnitude without actually meeting.

"If they had done what a board is supposed to do, we wouldn't be in this place at all," Kaine said. "I think they would have decided, on the basis of a meeting, not to try to force a resignation."

The Washington Post reports that several members of the university’s governing board spent Wednesday quietly counting votes and plotting a move to reinstate the outgoing president.

Sullivan reportedly told the Post that she wants to remain, but only if Rector Helen Dragas resigns. Meanwhile, the board has named McIntire School of Commerce Dean Carl Zeithaml as the interim president.

Zeithaml said he opposed the board's decision to remove Sullivan, calling it a "flawed process." But said he accepted the job “because I love this university."

As the Faculty Senate continues its efforts to get the Board of Visitors to reinstate the popular Sullivan, they are expected to meet with Zeithaml Thursday.

"We have already made a difference and we will not back down from fighting for our principles and for the university we love," Faculty Senate chairman George Cohen said in a note to colleagues. "We have work to do. Let's get to it."

Despite the strong support for Sullivan - and about 2,000 showing up outside the Rotunda on Monday to protest her removal - it's unlikely that the Board of Visitors would reinstate her after naming Zeithaml to the interim post.

"I can certainly understand why there is strong support in the community for her to be reinstated," Kaine said.

According to the Washington Post, Sullivan’s supporters on the board think they are close to the eight votes needed to reinstate her. They have until 5 p.m. Thursday to call a meeting for June 27, at which a reinstatement vote would be taken.