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Dozen: Sullivan epitome of grace under fire

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Posted: Tuesday, January 1, 2013 7:01 pm | Updated: 7:20 pm, Tue Jan 1, 2013.

Teresa A. Sullivan's time to give is limited. Still, she gives it.

The University of Virginia president supports the local Salvation Army, the Virginia Festival of the Book and the Virginia Film Festival. She admitted that others' volunteer efforts eclipse hers.

“I have a fairly time-intensive job, so I don’t really have a lot of time to offer. Compared to a lot of volunteers out there, I’m way down on the list as far as how much time I can give,” she said.

Nonetheless, the sight of Sullivan beyond the shadows of the Rotunda is familiar.

“She comes out and rings bells for us at the kettles down on The Corner and it helps a lot when the students see her out there. It sets a great example,"  said Salvation Army Major Allen Johnson. "It may not seem like a lot, but she doesn’t have to get up early in the morning in the cold and stand out there for a couple of hours. That means a lot to us.”

Sullivan is someone people feel comfortable introducing themselves to and conversing with, said Patricia Slipka, of Albemarle County.

“She’s approachable. She’s out in the community. You can see her at volleyball games and basketball games and you can approach her and talk with her,” Slipka said. “She doesn’t know me, but I’ve talked with her several times. She’s one of us. She doesn’t stand up apart from everyone but stands with us as one of us.”

That was evident, Slipka said, during the summer leadership crisis, during which Sullivan was forced to resign. She was reinstated 16 days after the move was announced.

“I was impressed with her qualitative characteristics rather than her quantitative characteristics, by her honesty and integrity, particularly when the June experience happened. I was truly inspired,” Slipka said.

Sullivan said compassion is as important as forgiveness. She cited the university’s Madison House, the student volunteer program, as an example. More than 3,000 students volunteer each week as tutors, construction workers, day care supporters, patient service representatives, role models and peer counselors, according to the program's website.

“We, as a large part of the community, want to build within the university and in the community at large a community of trust, compassion and dialogue,” Sullivan said. “Through Madison House, and other university organizations, we try to bring together the community and the university.

"We believe in service learning, showing students that volunteering and being of service in the community is good for them and for the place where they live.”

Teresa A. Sullivan

Age: 63

Hometown: Kewanee, Ill.

Residence: Charlottesville

Occupation: President of the University of Virginia

Personal: Married to Douglas Laycock; mother of two grown sons

Pastimes: Community service, reading and volksmarching, a noncompetitive form of organized group walks for physical fitness

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