What’s Really Going On At The University of Virginia? ~ dog’s eye view


Have you been watching the attempted coup at the University of Virginia?  The Board of Visitors has attempted to oust UVa’s president.  The Board is comprised primarily of big campaign donors to the previous and current governors, Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican Bob McDonnell.  There is no UVa faculty representative, and one non-voting student member.  The rest are corporate executives, attorneys, and two hospital executives (UVa has a hospital and medical school).
The coup was led by the Rector (Board Chair), Helen Dragas, a UVa alum and real estate developer from Virginia Beach.  She employed subterfuge, and it’s blown up in her face.
Rather than call a full board meeting to air the “philosophical differences” between President Teresa Sullivan and the Board, Dragas and her allies worked one on one with the board members, building support for removing Sullivan.  Once she had commitments, and without ever calling a board meeting (which would have resulted in a full discussion), Dragas told Sullivan the Board was prepared to remove her.
Sullivan took Dragas at her word, and resigned immediately rather than face a board fight.
We’ve never gotten a straight answer on why the Board is doing this.  Nefarious rumors fly, of intrigues among big donors (hedge fund millionaires and the like).  Could Dragas be doing the bidding of Goldman Sachs and its for-profit online division?  Was it a play to spin off the hospital?  Who can say yet?  Those who know are not talking, or talking through Hill & Knowlton PR (looking at you, Rector Dragas).  The vice rector resigned early on, and has remained silent.
I think this might be the tip of the iceberg where massive corporations, big money, and public education intersect.  UVa gets only 7% of its funding from the Commonwealth of Virginia, but plunder of public goods is not a new topic.  We live in an era of unprecedented institutional fail.
So this whole debacle bears watching.  I am enjoying the pushback.  There will be a student-led rally on the University’s Lawn this afternoon at two, and I am there in spirit.  The students feel their Rector’s activities do not meet the standards of UVa’s much admired honor code.
It’s my hope that President Teresa Sullivan is reinstated and Rector Helen Dragas sent packing, if she won’t resign.  Dragas’  term is up very soon, on July 1, and one would think she’s too radioactive for [aspiring GOP VP] Bob McDonnell to re-appoint.
FWIW:  Helen Dragas was appointed by Tim Kaine, former Democratic governor and current senatorial candidate.  He supports reinstating President Sullivan, and  — like everyone who’s gone on record, including current Governor Bob McDonnell — does not approve of the Board’s process (or lack thereof).  Dragas has contributed to Democratic candidates.
Charlottesville’s alt-weekly, The Hook, has been doing stellar reporting on this.  http://www.readthehook.com/
The Washington Post has also been excellent, and how often can you say that these days?  The Post published a series of email correspondence between Dragas and her allies, which UVa’s student newspaper, the Cavalier Daily, obtained via FOIA request.
Here’s a link to the Cavalier Daily.  http://www.cavalierdaily.com/
Lots to wade through, if you are so inclined.
This may seem a parochial topic, but huge issues lie under the surface.  Now if they will just rise, for a full public airing …
The UV Board of Visitors:


Filed under Uncategorized

11 responses to “What’s Really Going On At The University of Virginia? ~ dog’s eye view

  1. dnd

    It’s a shame with the growing politicization of public schools. It’s clear that they’ve lost sight of their mission to educate their students.

    • dnd

      With today’s SCOTUS ruling on Arizona’s immigration law, I expect to soon see a photo of Jan Brewer sticking her bony finger in to Justice Kennedy’s face. 😉

  2. dnd here is a new (to me) vid with Brad and a guy you may know named John Jorganson it is a takemine workshop at a music store about an hour long so have a good time

    • dnd

      That vid with Brad is awesome. They use to say of the late, great Danny Gatton that he was the greatest guitarist no one had ever heard of. I believe that mantle now belongs to Brad.

  3. tempebev

    Well, if you weren’t talking about Arizona before, you certainly are now. Yes, I would love to see a picture of Jan sticking her finger in Jus. Kennedy’s face. I guess she can’t count either. It’s going to be interesting around here with people watching for racial profiling. Just as interesting and important will be SCOTUS’s opinion of the Health Care Act. I’m sure there will be fingers pointing all around. Tucked away in the background is whether the House will actually bring contempt charges against Holder. This summer is turning out to be interesting after all.

  4. tempebev

    Just watched Jon Stewart with Marco Rubio. Seems like a very nice guy but certainly narrow and single minded. Stewart was great.

  5. Hey gang,
    Sorry to be MIA, just been swamped at work. Thanks for the post dog, I wasn’t aware of this story but will certainly follow it now

  6. As you may have seen, Teresa Sullivan was reinstated as president of UVa. by unanimous vote.

    Helen Dragas has not resigned her board seat, as she should. Her term ends Sunday. While eligible for reappointment, I wouldn’t expect Gov. McDonnell will do so. However, this is Virginia…

    I’ll keep you posted on events and — as we learn — why this forced resignation was attempted.

    There’s potential for a lot of good to come out of this. Full discussion of financing pressures facing schools and students, the mission of a great public university, how to educate students using 21st century technology.

    Also possibly restructuring that Board of Visitors to include more voice for educators and members of the university faculty and community.

    The composition of that board was appalling, once you looked more carefully. Not so much what was present as what was not.

    Might bore the socks off you, but more on this topic eventually.


    • dnd

      Colorado is on fire. First there was the High Park fire west of Ft. Collins, still going. Then there was the Estes Park fire, in the mop up stage. Then the Waldo Canyon fire west of Colorado Springs, going strong devastating north-west Colorado Springs, and encroaching on the Air Force Academy. Then there was the 40k acre grass fire near Last Chance in eastern Colorado. Yesterday a lightening strike several miles west of Boulder started a fire which has grown to 230 acres and is threatening Boulder. We got a little rain this afternoon, but with the rain came winds and lightening, precisely what we don’t need.

      Gov. Hickenlooper said that the President has contacted him and has a detailed grasp of the situation. Obama may visit Colorado Springs tomorrow.

  7. my friend Michael Stevens the guitar builder had Danny Gatton for a customer until he committed suicide. World lost a great guitar player that day.

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