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Supporters Of Former UVA President Plan Vigil For Board Meeting

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Protestors rallied Sunday afternoon on UVA's campus in support of former president Teresa Sullivan.
Armando Trull
Protestors rallied Sunday afternoon on UVA's campus in support of former president Teresa Sullivan.

More than 1,500 faculty members and students gathered on University of Virginia's campus for the "Rally of Honor" Sunday, an event held to support ousted university president Teresa Sullivan. The event, organized on Facebook, came two days before UVA's Board of Visitors is scheduled to meet to vote on Sullivan's reinstatement.

During Tuesday's meeting, many of the protesters will return to the campus lawn for a vigil. Sullivan's sudden removal earlier this month over management differences with the board has sparked outrage throughout the campus.

"This unjust action of the board must not stand," says Dorothy Fontaine, dean of the nursing school.

Some protesters held signs on Sunday that read, "It's more honorable to repair a wrong than to persist," a quote attributed to Thomas Jefferson, who helped found the university.

"We're really encouraging the board to reinstate Sullivan," says UVA professor Walter Heinecke. "Boards make mistakes, but it's better to correct these mistakes once they're acknowledged, than to ignore the mistakes."

Protesters also want Rector Helen Dragas, the person behind Sullivan's firing, to resign immediately.

"I think she has to go because she's violated ... UVA's honor code ... and I think this was a coup," says John Peterson, one of the protesters.

The issue has become an embarrassment to Virginia's flagship university, and Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) has told the board to settle the matter on Tuesday, or resign.

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