Sullivan's Inauguration on April 15 to Set the Tone for Historic Presidency at U.Va.

January 31, 2011

January 31, 2011 — Teresa A. Sullivan spent the first seven months after she was named president of the University of Virginia in January 2010 learning as much as she could about the institution – mostly from afar, as she completed her duties at the University of Michigan as provost and executive vice president for academic affairs.

Upon taking office Aug. 1, she immediately began making a difference at the University, for example asking that a Day of Dialogue be held to continue the healing and conversations stemming from the death in May of student Yeardley Love; launching searches for two senior University leaders; making the rounds of state and federal officials; and traveling across the country to meet alumni. An official installation ceremony would have to wait.

Now, the time has come.

At 3 o'clock on the afternoon of April 15, during Founder's Week in the heart of the Academical Village, Sullivan will make history as she is formally inaugurated as U.Va.'s eighth president, the first woman to hold the top job at the University, which didn't become fully coeducational until 1970.

In the six months since her arrival, Sullivan has taken time to infuse the inauguration planning with her own personality and low-key style while celebrating the University's history and its missions of teaching, research and public service.

"An inauguration is an important inflection point in the history of a university," she said. "It is a time for the community to look inward and to consider its future. It is not about an individual, but a celebration of an institution, its values and mission."

University Rector John O. Wynne said the inauguration represents renewal and change. "For a new president, it represents the official changing of the guard. It's a significant moment for all involved," he said.

The ceremony itself and five days of events are all designed around communities – whether assembling faith communities for an interfaith vigil of blessing, convening academic communities at a symposium on teaching, working in the community during a day of service, or enjoying healthful exercise in a mass inaugural walk.

"The week is designed to engage students, staff, faculty and alumni in different ways in the life of the University," Sullivan said. "I wanted to make sure there would be something that reflected all aspects of our mission – as well as activities in which every member of our community could see something for themselves.

"My hope is that the range of activities will encourage broad participation in the inauguration."

Sullivan's formal installation will begin with an academic procession from the Rotunda to the southern end of the Lawn. Besides Sullivan's inaugural address, speakers will include Wynne and University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman, a mentor for whom Sullivan worked for four years.

This marks U.Va.'s first inauguration in more than 20 years, since John T. Casteen III was formally installed as the University's seventh president in October 1990.

Previous inaugurations have generally taken place in the fall, said Alexander "Sandy" Gilliam, University protocol and history officer. A member of the Sullivan inauguration steering committee, he is working on his third inauguration, having previously been instrumental in the planning for the ceremonies of Casteen and Robert M. O'Neil, who served from 1985 to 1990.

There is a precedent for a spring inauguration, Gilliam noted. Edwin A. Alderman, U.Va.'s first president, also took office in August (of 1904) and was formally installed the next year around Founder's Day.

An official inaugural website,, will be updated frequently with all of the latest information. Beginning in mid-February, members of the University community and greater community will be able to register for events – which will be free and open to the public. Events will include:

Presidential Inauguration Research/Scholarship Poster Competition

To highlight the central role of knowledge creation and dissemination in the life of a great comprehensive university, undergraduate and graduate students have been invited to submit posters detailing their research and scholarship for a pan-University competition, with cash prizes to be awarded. A faculty jury will select winners in seven categories, each of whom will receive $500. An additional $500 will be awarded to the best overall undergraduate and graduate submissions.

The posters will be displayed throughout the week at the Rotunda and will be available for viewing online at the inaugural website.

• Interfaith Vigil of Blessing
April 13, 5:30 p.m., St. Thomas Aquinas Hall, 401 Alderman Road, Charlottesville

The service will include remarks by the Most Rev. Joseph Augustine Di Noia, a Roman Catholic archbishop; the Rev. Alvin Edwards of Charlottesville's Mount Zion First African Baptist Church; and Peter Ochs, Edgar Bronfman Professor of Modern Judaic Studies in U.Va.'s College of Arts & Sciences. The Mount Zion choir will perform, as will an interfaith choir and musicians from various religious communities and ministries at the University under the direction of Brian Sousa, director of music at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church.

Lisa Russ Spaar, an English professor in the College of Arts & Sciences, has organized "When You Feel the Holy Verse at Your Fingertips: A Pantoum," which will be presented by graduate poetry students. (According to the, the website of the Academy of American Poets, a pantoum is "a poem of any length, composed of four-line stanzas in which the second and fourth lines of each stanza serve as the first and third lines of the next stanza. The last line of a pantoum is often the same as the first.")

• Symposium: Using Evidence to Improve Teaching and Learning in Higher Education
April 14, 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., various sites

The symposium will begin with a keynote address by Lee Shulman, professor emeritus of education at Stanford University and president emeritus of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, to be given at 8:45 a.m. in Old Cabell Hall Auditorium. It continues with several breakout sessions focusing on the use of evidence in improving teaching in higher education and featuring U.Va. professors and students. Requests for submissions were issued Jan. 19. The sessions will be held at various sites near Old Cabell Hall.

• Installation Ceremony

April 15, 3 p.m., The Lawn. A reception will follow in the open space between the Chapel and the Rotunda.  Rain site: John Paul Jones Arena.

• Cavaliers Care: A Day of Service

April 16

U.Va. students, faculty, staff and alumni, along with those from the College at Wise, will join a day of community service, building on the success of Cavaliers Care, a worldwide annual day of service celebrating the University's Founder's Day. Since 2004, the local observance has been coordinated by Madison House, U.Va.'s student volunteer center. Locally, the day will include a variety of volunteer service projects at community agencies and sites around Charlottesville and surrounding counties. College at Wise students and employees will engage in a variety of service projects both on- and off-campus. In addition, through the Office of Engagement, U.Va. alumni will take part in service efforts at dozens of sites throughout the world.

"It is exciting that President Sullivan has so wholeheartedly embraced service as a significant component of her inauguration week," said Angela Davis, special assistant to U.Va.'s vice president and chief student affairs officer. "We have a goal of involving approximately 1,000 volunteers locally, nationally and worldwide."

• Inaugural Walk
April 17, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., starting and finishing at The Park on U.Va.'s North Grounds

Volksmarching (from German "Volksmarsch," or "peoples' march") is a form of non-competitive fitness walking that developed in Europe. Participants – the new president is a longtime enthusiast – typically walk five or 10 kilometers on an outdoor path. Volksmarch associations offer incentive awards (usually pins and patches) for participating in a certain number of events. Intramural-Recreational Sports will host the Inaugural Walk, featuring routes of five and 10 kilometers that will traverse the Grounds.  

"Since her arrival, Terry has reached out to every University constituency – students, staff, faculty, alumni, parents, local leaders, and state and federal legislators – articulating her understanding of this place and her aspirations for it," Wynne said. "Her inauguration in April signals the final step in her transition to the presidency of the University of Virginia. I hope that all who can will participate in ways, large or small, in this great moment in University history."

Media Contact

Carol S. Wood

Associate Vice President President's Office