He was an insider who nearly everyone could line up behind, known for his long tenure and big ideas.
The appointment of longtime University of Virginia dean Carl P. Zeithaml on Tuesday as the school’s interim president surprised many inside and outside the university. But those familiar with Zeithaml, including rivals at other schools, say the 62-year-old strategic management expert is well-equipped to step in and lead a campus that is still reeling from the abrupt ouster of his predecessor, Teresa A. Sullivan.
Sullivan resigned June 10 after two years on the job, citing “a philosophical difference of opinion” with some members of the school’s Board of Visitors. Rector Helen E. Dragas had criticized Sullivan for moving too slowly to address “an existential threat” facing the university as a result of the sluggish economy and declining state support.
In contrast to Sullivan, who had no prior ties to the university, Zeithaml is well known to faculty, administrators and governing board members. He came to Charlottesville in 1997 to become dean of the McIntire School of Commerce, the university’s undergraduate business program, a job he still holds. He is one of the the longest-serving deans at U-Va. During his tenure, he has made a name for himself as an innovator and someone who has tackled ever-present funding challenges by creating new programs.