In a statement prepared for release at a news conference on campus, University Rector Helen Dragas explained that the board and Sullivan "mutually agreed" the president would leave her position at U-Va.
"We want UVA to remain in that top echelon of universities well into the 21st century and beyond," Dragas said. "To achieve these aspirations, the board feels the need for a bold leader who can help develop, articulate, and implement a concrete and achievable strategic plan to re-elevate the University to its highest potential."
The Cavalier Daily, U-Va's student-operated independent newspaper,
Though Sullivan could not be reached on Sunday, she released a statement on her sudden departure.
"Although the board and I have a philosophical difference of opinion, I will always treasure having had the opportunity to work with so many gifted faculty and staff, talented students and loyal alumni."
Governor McDonnel extended his gratitude to Sullivan for her services.
"I want to thank Dr. Teresa Sullivan for her leadership of the University of Virginia over the past two years. Serving as the President of Mr. Jefferson's University is a tremendous responsibility and she has fulfilled her duties with honor, energy and good stewardship," he said. "In addition, President Sullivan has been a great partner with our Administration in our efforts to increase access and affordability at Virginia's colleges and universities. Through her leadership, Virginia added nearly 1,000 new student slots and recently enacted the lowest yearly tuition increase in over a decade."
The news came as a great surprise to the greater U-Va community.
"We all had a very positive outlook on President Sullivan," student body president Johnny Vroom told The Washington Post. "That's why it was such a shock."
Ann Marie McKenzie, a recent U-Va graduate and former chairman of the student-run Honor Committee, echoed Vroom's statement, saying that she thought Sullivan was an "effective leader and had a vision for the university."
U-Va, which was established in 1819 by Thomas Jefferson, is located in Charlottesville, VA, and is ranked as the second best value public college by the Princeton Review. Sullivan was the institution's first female president, succeeding John Casteen in August 2010. Before coming to U-Va, Sullivan served as the provost at the University of Michigan.