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Governing board OKs contract extension for University of Virginia president

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia — The governing board of the University of Virginia approved a contract extension Tuesday for President Teresa A. Sullivan, the first woman to lead the university founded by Thomas Jefferson.

The Board of Visitors approved a two-year extension on a contract that was to expire next year. Terms provide for salary increases in each year of the contract, and a provision that could extend her tenure.

Sullivan is paid $674,000 annually under terms of her current contract.

U.Va.'s eighth president, Sullivan was appointed in August 2010 to succeed John Casteen. The board said Sullivan had guided the elite university through significant progress and "through challenging events."

Sullivan survived an attempt to oust her two years into her presidency. More recently, she has had to deal with a spate of incidents that cast a negative light on the university. Most notable among them was a since-retracted Rolling Stone magazine article that reported on a bogus rape at a U.Va. fraternity.

In a statement, Sullivan said, "I am very grateful for the opportunity to continue to lead this remarkable institution."

Rector George Keith Martin called Sullivan a force for positive change and said her "successes are many," including a strategic vision and academic quality.

"President Sullivan leads with integrity and determination," Martin said in prepared remarks.

In 2010, then-Rector Helen Dragas orchestrated a surprise firing of Sullivan, igniting a firestorm of protests by faculty, students, alumni and the public. The Board of Visitors later reinstated Sullivan.

Besides the discredited Rolling Stone piece, U.Va. has weathered other challenges under Sullivan's watch, including the slaying of a student on the Downtown Mall and the bloody arrest of another student by state Alcoholic Beverage Control officers.

Under the new contract, the board can replace Sullivan no earlier than October 2017. If the board does not replace her, it can extend Sullivan's contract to May 2019.

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