The vote was taken Tuesday at a short public meeting of the board, The Washington Post reported. Ruth Dragas, the Virginia Beach developer who heads the board and was responsible for Sullivan's resignation, met privately with the president beforehand and entered the board meeting with her.
Dragas' term as rector ends Sunday and Gov. Robert McDonnell has not said whether he will reappoint her.
Dragas believed Sullivan, 62 -- a sociologist and experienced university administrator who had been president for less than two years -- was not moving quickly enough to deal with the university's financial problems, the newspaper reported.
Sullivan's ouster caused a firestorm, angering faculty, students, alumni and donors. McDonnell told the board last week if the situation was not resolved by Tuesday -- not necessarily with Sullivan's reinstatement -- he would use a little-known state law to fire all its members.
When Sullivan emerged from the meeting, a waiting crowd cheered her. She said she believes all board members were trying to do their best for the university.
"This is not a sign of weakness on their part, but a sign of strength and deliberation and a good example to each of us," Sullivan said.