- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 29, 2012

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) – University of Virginia President Teresa A. Sullivan is calling for measures aimed at improving faculty and changes in curriculum, including peer review and merit-based raises.

Media outlets report that Ms. Sullivan discussed her proposals Tuesday night during a meeting of the Faculty Senate, where she was greeted with a standing ovation. The meeting marked the first time Ms. Sullivan addressed faculty members since she was forced to resign and was then reinstated in June.

“Having a great faculty is the essential precondition to the success of any university,” Ms. Sullivan said.

Changes also are needed in the way faculty members are hired. The university should consider overall long-term teaching needs instead of directly replacing departing faculty members, she said.

Ms. Sullivan also said she wants to broaden faculty search committees.

Faculty representation on the Board of Visitors was discussed during a question-and-answer session.

“Even if faculty members are not on the board as full-fledged voting members, having them have a bigger role on committees, and having participation – I think that can go a long way,” Faculty Senate President George Cohen said.

Ms. Sullivan also was asked about her relationship with the board, whose failed attempt to oust her threw the campus into chaos for two weeks.

“The Board of Visitors has committed itself to my being president. I believe in that commitment,” she said. “… I believe that they are committed now to seeing all of us be successful together, and I have to go forward in that belief. It’s simply the way public institutions work, that we are given a governing board in the public interest.”

She said board members should serve longer terms because rapid turnover does not give them an opportunity to get to know each other. Up to a quarter of the board can turn over every year.

She declined to discuss the resignation of Michael Strine, the school’s chief operating officer and executive vice president, earlier this month.

“It’s a personnel issue and I think everybody understands that personnel issues should remain confidential. That’s it,” Ms. Sullivan said.

She called for a reinvention of the liberal arts curriculum to meet the 21st century’s evolving demands, and said the university needs to maintain its commitment to research.

“We create the knowledge other colleges teach,” she said.

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