To the McIntire School Community:

The events of the past two weeks have been, to say the least, extraordinary, thought-provoking, emotional, and unpredictable. Along with many others, I found myself thrust into the situation as a result of my commitment to help and my love for UVA. With the Board of Visitors’ decision to reinstate President Sullivan yesterday, I am very happy to focus my thoughts and actions on my responsibilities as Dean of the McIntire School of Commerce. I now look forward to working with the Board, President Sullivan, other University leaders, my fellow deans, alumni, students, and my many colleagues across Grounds as we address the challenges to higher education and UVA raised by the Board and others throughout this process. With unity and resolve, UVA should become a model for addressing these issues in public higher education.

I hope that we all learned many lessons from this unprecedented experience. I want to share several that will, no doubt, be part of a much longer list as I continue to reflect on this process.

First, I will never take for granted or underestimate the tremendous importance of family and friends. The only reason that I survived some of the more challenging moments was the unwavering and unconditional support of my family, friends, and colleagues. It was both humbling and inspiring, and I deeply appreciate every message and action to support me. I will try to thank each of you individually over the coming weeks (I literally received thousands of messages), but please know that I will never forget your support.

Second, we always need to remain calm, patient, and balanced in a crisis, remembering that we should not assume the motives of others without good and accurate knowledge. I will never believe everything that I hear or read about someone without a real understanding of the situation. Many people assumed, wrote, or spoke a variety of things about everyone in this situation that were utterly false or misguided, often to fit their own biased agenda. I will strive to give everyone the benefit of the doubt in the future.

Third, our students and colleagues are the reason that we are committed to the University, and they uplift me in the most difficult circumstances. Last Saturday, I rejoined a group of our M.S. in Commerce students and faculty in Germany for the conclusion of their Global Immersion Experience. Although they thanked me for making the effort, I was the one who was really inspired by their excitement for learning and their enthusiastic engagement with each other and the McIntire School. Whenever I feel a little stressed in the future, I will just spend time with our great students, faculty, staff, and alumni, and I know that I will feel much better.

Finally, during my first morning back in Europe, I saw an American family in the hotel breakfast room, and one of the kids was wearing a college T-shirt. I thought about the controversy and the negative perceptions (many of them wrong) surrounding UVA, and I had a very brief moment of wondering whether I would want to wear a UVA shirt or cap in the near future. Immediately, however, I realized that we all need to rally around the University, not withdraw from or abandon our community, but instead redouble our efforts to make UVA preeminent.

We can all play a critical role. As a student, get involved with Madison House, Honor, Comm Council, or another organization to build community. As a parent, recruit top students from your local area to attend UVA. As an alum, volunteer to speak in a class or hire a UVA grad or two. Engage in the University by attending multiple concerts, games, or other events. Donate to McIntire and the University, as we will put your gifts to terrific use. Very simply, greater participation in everything from the life of the University to the Annual Fund will send a great message to the world. At this historic moment, we can publicly show everyone that we love UVA and help it move forward. I proudly wear a Virginia T-shirt as I write this message.

So, thank you for remaining loyal and supportive of McIntire and UVA through the crisis and the controversy. With your help, I promise that we will be much better for it. Enjoy the rest of your summer.

Carl Zeithaml
McIntire School of Commerce