UVA June: Dragas just a tool in right-wing 'reform'

By Peter Gunter

Three months after Teresa Sullivan was fired and rehired as President of the University of Virginia, concerned people are still searching for an explanation to what seemed like a rash and arbitrary act. The lack of specifics in Rector Helen Dragas’ repeated justifications– the need for “change” and “strategic dynamism”– only fuels the demand for more concrete explanations.

To many, what happened at UVA in June seemed an isolated event, the result of a few business people trying to impose a corporate-style takeover of a state institution. This view is only partially correct. The Sullivan affair makes a lot more sense when understood in the context of the actual corporate takeover of American public education that has been underway for at least a decade. This takeover involves a carefully coordinated strategy to redirect the flow of public money into private firms while controlling politicians (and occasionally the media) to accomplish this goal.

Let’s start with the money. Amidst her vague explanations for ousting Sullivan, Dragas was clear about one thing: state funding has declined precipitously. In her 10-point "right thing, the wrong way" memo, Dragas noted that state spending has been cut from $15,000 to $8,300 per UVA student since 2000. Virginians have questioned why the General Assembly won’t restore the money, noting that neighboring states Maryland and North Carolina continue to spend, per student, up to three times as much.

Across the country, students have turned to private lenders. Since 1999, according to The Atlantic, education debt has increased by 511 percent, with the average student now shouldering a load of $25,000. With the prospect of widespread default, economists fear this could cause the next great financial crisis.

With that looming, one might think that government and Wall Street would be working together to curtail student debt. The reality is exactly the opposite, and it may stem from the highly profitable for-profit university industry. One of the biggest corporate owners of for-profit universities is Education Management Corporation, or EMC. When Goldman Sachs bought a major stake in EMC in 2006, the firm's private universities immediately turned their admissions offices into sales-driven boiler rooms. Longtime admissions staff were replaced by high-pressure sales teams who, according to a fraud complaint filed by the Justice Department and four states, utilized coercive phone scripts to convince prospective students that loans could be easily repaid after earning their degree.

In spite of the massive debt that private universities are creating, conservatives want to open the door to more private universities. This will supposedly force public universities to become more competitive by cutting liberal arts programs, replacing tenure with merit pay, and adopting online education– reforms that Sullivan was accused of failing to speedily embrace at UVA.

The need for such reforms may seem inevitable in a bad economy. Less inevitable, however, are the roles played by backstage influencers. Ten to fifteen years ago, American higher education seemed the envy of the world. Since then, right-wing think tanks, including the Manhattan Institute and the American Enterprise Institute, have redirected the conversation away from state defunding by claiming that universities are failing due to wasteful overhead, unproductive tenured professors, and the teaching of liberal ideology.

Never mind the stark reality on most campuses these days of stagnant salaries and an increasing reliance on adjunct faculty who receive low wages and no benefits. The right-wing think tanks remain silent on state defunding because the goal– born of the belief that a private enterprise is always superior– is starving the beast.

At first glance, the reams of op-eds, articles, and books the think tanks churn out appear driven by a populist concern for an educated citizenry and a strong economy. But the lack of any original scholarship at these institutes, their tendency to cherry-pick data from legitimate studies, and their failure to publish in peer-reviewed journals betray them as propaganda outlets serving the financial interests of the Wall Street financiers and industrialists who fund them.

Consider ACTA. One of the few people to publicly support Dragas for firing Sullivan was Anne Neal, president of ACTA, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni. The language Dragas used to justify firing Sullivan reads as if taken directly from ACTA’s position papers. While the mission page of goacta.org speaks to idealistic goals of “higher standards,” "accountability," and “affordable education,” a more in-depth examination reveals discussions about the proliferation of courses straying from the Western canon, the undue influence of Marxist professors on campus, and the need for a balance of conservative teachings.

What the ACTA website fails to mention is the name of key supporter Charles Koch, who, with brother David, has amassed a $60 billion fortune, largely from oil and coal. In 1980, David Koch stood as vice-presidential candidate for the Libertarian party on a platform of eliminating myriad government institutions including the public school system. Having failed in that direct political effort, the brothers have turned to working behind the scenes by funding the Tea Party, climate-warming deniers, and groups like ACTA.

ACTA appears to be an effective investment for the brothers. According to a recent email blast to supporters, “ACTA is defining the national conversation on higher education.” Whenever Neal appears on discussion panels in print and TV, one might suppose that the ACTA is a grassroots group of university trustees. However, like UVA's board, ACTA's board is loaded less with academics than industrialists. It even includes hard-right icon and former Attorney General Ed Meese. Neal herself has never been an academic or a trustee. Instead, she is a lawyer whose higher education credentials rest primarily on writing a book entitled Reforming the Politically Correct University.

Even ACTA’s mission is beset with contradictions. Why, for instance, would ACTA decry failing standards in public education– and then vigorously lobby to change the laws that govern the accreditation boards that uphold the standards? Why indeed? Because for-profit universities need accreditation to tap into federal student loans and grant money.

In addition to the six-figure sum they gave him, the Kochs have also enthusiastically promoted Governor McDonnell as a future presidential candidate by repeatedly inviting him to speak at their semi-annual confabs. Such effusions from the Koch brothers are rare but understandable in light of the governor’s extreme right-wing stands on issues like offshore drilling, school vouchers, and privatizing state agencies.

Governor McDonnell probably had more to do with Sullivan’s firing than his terse public statements might suggest. The governor’s post-debacle reappointment of Dragas speaks volumes about their political alignment. Shouldn't any leader of UVA seek greater state funding? Dragas seems content to support a budget driven by the governor’s absolutist pledge never to raise taxes—the same pledge that top lobbyist Grover Norquist has gotten every Republican in Congress to sign. And who is it that funds Grover Norquist in this effort? Again, the Koch brothers.

In many ways, the privatization of American higher education is following the path of public K-12 education. Over the past decade, education companies like Pearson (which now owns the software firm that caused a million-dollar debacle for Albemarle) have reaped huge profits through sales of standardized testing, textbooks, online education, and teacher evaluations. When you were a child, you may have gazed at the name on the spine of your textbook and seen the names of competing companies like Addison-Wesley, Allyn & Bacon, Macmillan, Silver Burdett, and Scott Foresman. Today, they're all owned by Pearson.

In 2000, Goldman Sachs served as advisor and lead underwriter in Pearson's acquisition of National Computer Systems, a deal that gave it a near monopoly on testing programs. Since then, Pearson has made billions from the standardized testing launched by the 2002 No Child Left Behind Act. Pearson lobbyists worked tirelessly to pass the Act and have continued to lobby state legislatures– which have slashed funding for libraries, arts, lunches, and sports– to ensure spending on standardized testing.

As state money is pushed from schools to corporations, the propaganda machine continues to beat the drum of school failure that is now being measured by standardized tests. The right wing continues to advocate for vouchers and charter schools, despite prominent studies that disprove charter schools’ success in raising the overall level of education achievement. What charter schools have been effective in accomplishing, however, is destabilizing teacher unions, lowering teacher pay, and building Republican control over school budgets.

One of the most contentious battles is taking place in New York City, where a non-profit group called StudentsFirst, having seen some successes in a few impoverished areas, is leading a citywide charter school movement. A counter group, New Yorkers for Great Public Schools, claims that StudentsFirst is a political effort, pointing to the fact that Students First is funded by New York City’s wealthy elite, and that the founder, Michele Rhee, has sought strategic assistance from none other than Mitt Romney's Bain Capital to mount her assault on the NYC school system.

It’s no coincidence that two of the major supporters of StudentsFirst, Paul Tudor Jones and Peter Kiernan, were involved in the firing of Sullivan. Dragas reportedly pre-informed Jones who penned an op-ed telling us to be “elated,” and Kiernan bragged of his role (before quickly resigning from the Darden School’s governing board). In his book, Becoming China’s Bitch, Kiernan acknowledges the increasing power of think tanks and lobbyists, but he claims to be a “radical centrist” in a world where the Brookings Institute is as far to the left as the American Enterprise Institute is to the right. Kiernan rails against teacher unions and exorbitant six-figure school board pensions but says nothing about his long tenure at Goldman Sachs, how the company helped transform American education, or whether he faced any moral dilemmas as he amassed his own ten-figure fortune.

Although Sullivan and Dragas have put on brave faces of reconciliation, the issues that divide them remain as deep as the party divisions that have split the nation and immobilized the U.S. Congress. Yes, American education is in financial crisis; and, yes, there are important debates about the quality of public education, the distribution of tax dollars, and the role of online education. But I doubt that we can have an honest debate as long as the conversation, the laws, and the politicians are controlled by the one percent.
Peter Gunter is a local writer who graduated from UVA in 1981, debt free.

Read more on: Helen DragasUVAJune


The author of this piece needs to take a good, hard look at the cost of his education back in 1977-81 and compare it to what UVA is spending today. He will see that college costs are out of control, in large measure due to a construction boom and a steep increase in highly paid administrators who never set foot in the classroom. The solution? Universities need to reverse this trend, spending more money on instruction and less on bureaucracy and
fancy facilities. To ask government to pick up the tab for this excess, or students to take on ever more debt, is just not right.

Brilliant analysis Mr. Gunter, thank you .

The most important part of this story is how much the education is subsidized per student. If you add in the money from hospital profits to that amount UVA should be able to teach kids for free.

Looks like the only "bang" students are getting for thier money is in the frat houses... Just ask playboy........

It is amazing how universities in Europe and Asia offer competitive educations without minor league sports programs.

Good analysis Peter. Perhaps some investigation about actions of BOV members at other state colleges, notably George Mason, would be in order. You might find some very interesting crossover.

Governor McDonnell probably had more to do with Sullivan’s firing than his terse public statements might suggest. - Ya think?????

Dragas was merely doing other peoples' bidding. They reappointed her out of their own guilt about how much flak she took for trying to implement their agenda. She was a fall guy, a patsy. That's why there is no explanation of her actions. She was essentially doing what the rich guys made her do.

@ Bill Marshall - Presume your Playboy comment refers to UVA's latest claim to fame......

From US NEWS...."Officials at the University of Virginia on Wednesday weren't thrilled with Playboy’s dubious distinction listing the nation’s oldest public university as the No. 1 party school in America."

“We are demanding a recount,” UVA spokeswoman Marian Anderfuren told NBC News.

Sorry Marian, not funny! The sad truth is that the US News ranking is the truth and along with it comes the underlying truth that alcohol flows more than water in the Academic Village and yet does anyone doubt that sexual assaults don't correlate to this ranking. They are almost non-existent at UVA yet the FBI numbers say 1 in 4 college girls are sexually assaulted. Why don't they do rankings on how many girls drop out of this school crushed by the barbaric treatment girls get in SMB hearings. Something to be really proud of folks!


Seeing as its the hospital that's in trouble, I would like to know where these giant subsidies are actually coming from....

I am tired of hearing about how universities misuse their funds. fact: the largest single expense the University has is their payroll. Take a look at the cost of healthcare, folks. THAT'S a major increase every year. All the money being spent on bricks and mortar isn't coming from the state, it is from donors, and can't be applied to things like state salaries/benefits. I agree that the highest level administrators are paid exhorbitant salaries. If staff are expected to take under-market salaries for the privilege of working at UVA, so should administration. People should keep in mind that faculty salaries that have been reported are not accurate and are actually lower in most cases. Physician salaries are substantially higher than academic faculty.

This is the tip of the iceberg. Look at the past emploment of several members of the BOV and you will be amazed at what you find. Connect the dots and the whole UVA debacle and fiasco will look like minor league play compared to what is being bought and sold in DC. Corporate America is out to eliminate any iota of law or regulation that cuts into profits. From the EPA to the Justice Department a full court press is on to make money at the expense of the health, welfare and safety of all of us.The rules aren't for the 1%. The 1% wants to drive the 47% deeper into poverty.

"These are the times that try men's souls.................................................................................

The only choice is this election becomes clearer each and every day. Vote for the people, not for the 1%

@Lewis Mountain - Howdy neighbor. I too enjoyed a much cheaper cost of tuition and education at UVa as an undergrad, back in the 80s...and I agree with you that we ought to have more transparent budgets and examine where the money is really coming from as well as where it's going.

I think you will be disappointed to learn that it's not being 'wasted' on buildings and other brick and mortar projects, even though we, living surrounded by UVa, are heavily impacted by those projects.

As @watcher notes: it's being spent on people, the recurring cost. And back in the 70s and 80s, there were a LOT more bureaucratic employees at UVa who were a heck of a lot less efficient. In other words: we've already done a lot of cutting in that area.

The issue is, instead, I suspect, a decrease in the revenue as much as an increase in spending, though it is true there is a huge new layer of bureaucracy. Again, we really need some budget transparency, that's what is sorely lacking.

Lewis Mtn Says: The author of this piece needs to take a good, hard look at the cost of his education back in 1977-81 and compare it to what UVA is spending today. He will see that college costs are out of control, in large measure due to a construction boom and a steep increase in highly paid administrators who never set foot in the classroom. The solution? Universities need to reverse this trend, spending more money on instruction and less on bureaucracy and fancy facilities. To ask government to pick up the tab for this excess, or students to take on ever more debt, is just not right."

This is horse hockey. The cost of University education is going up for one reason. State politicians of both parties won't raise taxes on corporations and the wealthy. They underfund the public universities and then force them to raise tuition. Yes administrators need to go unless their job is lobbying the State legislature for funding UVA at 100% not 8%. But to blame the rising costs on Universitiy inefficiency is just plain wrong. The BOV should be protesting in front of the Governor's mansion and the House of Delegates.

T. Sullivan is a 2nd rate bureaucratic hack, and most of those who have had any dealings with her rwalize it. Her entire career is built around affirmative action for females and blacks, and "being nice" to others. Males get screwed if they think they are coming to UVA. The admission rate for females and minorities is over 70%.

@ remi I beg to disagree . I know many who have dealings with President Sullivan and they are very impressed. I doubt if thousands would have come to her defense if what you say we're true.

@remi You are wrong. Please reference your claim. The problem is Dragas' lack of leadership. Dragas needs to resign.

President Sullivan is an excellent leader and a brilliant scholar.


According to "The Answer Sheet"; 11/17/2009
By:Valerie Strauss


male: 8,380 applied; 3,014 accepted, or about 36 percent
women: 9,983 applied; 3,721 accepted, or about 37 percent

male: 8,121 applied; 2,742 accepted, or about 34 percent
women: 9,677 applied; 3,531 accepted, or about 36 percent

male: 7,218 applied; 2,680 accepted, or about 37 percent
women: 8,868 applied; 3,339 accepted, or about 38 percent"

Besides Dragas, UVA's biggest problem is the make up of the tenured faculty:

Bacon's Rebellion
September 14, 2012
Decline of White Patriarchal Privilege at UVa?
By: James A. Bacon

"Now we learn from a presentation of the Special Committee on Diversity to the University of Virginia Board of Trustees that in the fall of 2o11 men held 76% of TTT (tenure and tenure track) positions while women held only 24%. For fully tenured positions, men outnumbered women by a five-to-one margin. It goes without saying that tenured faculty members receive the highest pay and enjoy the greatest perks and job protection."

The racial imbalance was even worse. In the fall of 2011, “under-represented minorities,” which include African-Americans, Asians, Hispanics, Native Americans and “Two or Mores” — constitute only 15% of the tenure and tenure-track faculty.

Admission criteria at UVA is extremely fair.

How do you think women felt prior to August 26, 1920? How do you think black students felt prior to 1950?

Thank you A/P this is very interesting, and certainly shows there is work to be done in terms of racial and gender equity. Unfortunately, I do not think this is the Governor, or the current BOV's priority. In fact, of in all the vague complaints Dragas made about Sullivan - addressing diversity issues was not one of them

" Why do the Koch Brothers want to end public education "
This video is worth watching .


How does all the financial help that UVA offers the students play into this? I know there is much more financial help today than there ever was 30 years ago. I'm not questioning the rationale behind financial help but who pays for all this? I'm assuming the actual costs for tuition, board and food is not what is being formally charged. Athletes, minorities and poorer students are being subsidized by the rest of the student body or do these subsidies come from another source as do Jefferson Scholars.

Kindly elaborate.

Leadership among the UVA BoV is clearly lacking. Dragas is to blame.

Heywood Fralin was the leader during the crisis, and not Dragas. Dragas, a woman capable of a coup (due to deceptive means), has not demonstrated effective leadership at UVA. Quite the opposite. Dragas has no credibility. At a minimum, the UVA faculty should have been included in the process to oust the President. If in fact UVA accreditation in question, Dragas must be forced to resign.

Heywood Fralin's comment..."As a member of this Board, I am of the opinion that we have all made mistakes in this process. It is clear that every member knew that the Rector and the Vice-Rector intended to meet with President Sullivan to ask for her resignation. I was not clever enough at the time to confer with other members to determine if three would be willing to call a special meeting of the Board of Visitors to discuss such action. I am confident there would have been three willing members and that if such a meeting had been called, a vigorous discussion would have ensued, and no one knows what the vote would have been. I apologize to the University community including all Board members that I didn't think of this solution sooner. It would have avoided this crisis."

Robert Greenwald of Bravenewfilms has a new documentary about the Koch Brothers. There is also an impact report and this is a link to that

So if we divide the 2012 budget by the number of students served then we get an actual
"cost per student" So can we do that for 2012 and then go back in time to 1985, adjust for the consumer price index and see the difference?

I would imagine that the amount spent per student is probably 5-10 times based on antecdotal evidence.

The Koch brothers were no more than names until I watched the above video about their attempt to influence the education policies of public schools in North Carolina - now I seriously wonder if they. via ACTA, were the force behind the attempt to oust Sullivan with McDonnell as their partner.

It is stunning to watch in the youtube video how the public rose up against them in the North Carolina case, and without knowing who was behind the Sullivan firing, perhaps, that is also what happened here in Charlottesville.

What are the connections of the present UVa board to the Koch brothers ? We need to know

At Remi,

Actually the percentage of African-American Students has declined from somewhere around 12-14% to about 8% from what i hear. There is a problem with race at UVA and its the problem that has been raised by the group UCARE in their recent report sent to the Governor, Legislature, BOV, UVA Admin and Deans and faculty senate and a whole host of other UVA stakeholders. See the report at:


See the recent press release news: http://www.newsplex.com/home/headlines/UCARE-Releases-Report-on-Race-Rel...

The gist of this is to urge the BOV and the University to consider matters of racial equity and diversity in their current strategic planning processes. These issues have been missing in the post Sullivan debacle discussions.


Great to throw the right wing in this piece, but why no mention of the student reform act of 2010. As a student, I get to have no interest deferred and loan from the government? Lovely!

Also, whoever posted before about GM being saved and having paid off the debt better read more articles since the US - meaning all citizens - still own a large stake in the company and won't sell because of the huge loss that would incur... but at least the unions are happy

This whole mess was ENTIRELY political and an undue embarrassment to UVA (even more so than the caviar/champagne tailgating and the green sportjackets and plaid ties). A normal American shows up with nose-bleed seats for a football game and everyone in the parking lot says, "We have stars on our bellies, and you do not. You are not one of us." American SAT scores are at an all-time low and college loans are almost unheard-of. Loans of any kind are almost non-existent. Thanks to this economy -- whomever you wish to blame. Tenure is fraud. Performance (as in the NFL) is rewardable, but what have you done for me THIS week?

Mr. Jefferson (who is the most-often-co-opted person on the planet) had high ideals for his academical village and it has devolved into a political fiasco. They must be tamping down the turf on Monticello to keep the Sage of Monticello from spinning out of his grave and using Indiana Jones-style ark-of-the-covenant laser eyes to fix all of your sorry arses. If you are an educator, and in it for your career, then you already have missed your mark. Both of my parents were life-long educators and made the sacrifices to be in it for the students.

This president was fired for differences of opinion with the board, which they are tongue tied to discuss for personnel reasons and restrictions. Sullivan can stand there and claim she doesn't understand and know they can't disclose. Let it go, folks. Amazing that this faculty wants the accreditation called into question out of spite knowing it would affect the students adversely and yet they don't care. Who is really important here? Sullivan and her feelings or the students?

@ Nancy...the statis quo is better? Certainly not endorsing the Koch Bros, but the system is broken and something needs to change...

Off topic - VA Beach legislator Scott Rigell is touting his new Chinese drywall legislation across our Facebook walls.....who will really benefit? Dragas.

I agree and there is excellent research on how to do that . We need to use that research and not allow our public education system to be re-segregated by Koch brother funded initiatives. Until I watched the video above I was completely naive about what they were up to . I was shocked !
Their focus is not to improve education .
Anyone sincerely interested in doing that should read this book -
" How Children Succeed " by Paul Tough

What will affect the students adversely is to allow the system that brought this mess upon us to continue unabated or unchallenged. The way the BOV is appointed is corrupt and needs to be changed. That means the group in power now is not legitimate. They need to go as was apparent in the berating of Cohen and Sullivan at the last meeting. The BOV composition must change. There needs to be more voting faculty and staff and students and fewer uberrich corporate campaign payoff positions.

The Sacs threat is just a pressure point for those types of changes. Everyone come out and tell your legislators what you think today at 6:30 at the Law School. If you don't the students will be affected adversely.

Well, we now know the name behind Democracy. Obviously Peter is an unhappy disgruntled teacher approaching his 50s unfulfilled in a middle age crisis and psychologically needs to fabricate a conservative political collusion that in his mind explains what he finds wrong with the US educational system. The failing educational system is not due to the lack of money thown into the system, but more the lack of time and interest parents are investing with regard to their child's education and behavior which begins at home as well as the effect of hollywood and media. However, it is true that everyone has an agenda. Unfortunately, at the university level the individuals that are selected(not voted upon) for leading roles are often liberal gifted researchers and academic achievers that have little common sense and little or no experience in the real world workplace trenches much like many of the successful politicians that are able to sway the public for their votes. On the medical side, it is those that can bring money/patients into the hospital that are put in charge and granted private practice type incomes. Appreciative foreign medical grads now comprise a significant presence in the hospital halls doing a large portion of the caregiving during their four year indenture to board certification which is already changing the face of medicine in the US but that is another story.

I would expect many county Farmers to say things like let's blame the victim when it comes to education. Peter nailed it on the head. Bottom line: Conservatives of both parties protect corporate and wealth interests. They defund public education, they appoint the rich to prevent any change and to privatize the public. Why hasn't the BOV been vociferously fighting against the shrinking state support of UVA (down to 8%)? Because they are anti-tax ant-government and they were appointed to do nothing put promote the privatization of public institutions. Look at the VA Port Authority Board-SAME EXACT PHENOMENON as the BOV.

Toscano is on the WINA Radio now and says maybe you can't legislate change because its the personalities. Respectfully disagree, this would have been a whole lot less likely to have happened if the BOV was not stacked with extremely wealthy corporate welfare supporters. Let's make the BOV of the Public UVA look like and represent the public in the Commonwealth. That takes a change in legislation. Protect the University from the corporate class that wants to prey on public institutions. That's why Sulilivan was fired because the ideological differences were Corporate takeover to privatize and destroy public higher education vs. protect the public university, free speech, shared governance, academic freedom and public good. There is enough evidence to suggest this was why Sullivan was fired. Come out to the Public meeting at 6:30 at the Law School. Sign up to speak. Tell them to change the BOV appointment process and insert the public, faculty,staff, & students back into UVA governance. If you came out to support Sullivan you will come out for tonight.

Demand full funding of UVA
Demand faculty staff, students with a voting seat on the BOV
Demand the Governor's appointment be rejected
Demand an end to campaign pay off appointments by any governor
Demand the BOV look like the public the University serves in terms of gender, race, social and economic status. End corporate domination of our public university-it's dishonorable.

was the most fun I've had on campus since ... 1974?

The controversy is not over yet, as this article makes plain. The trend to "online education" and a takeover by the right wing corporatists seems counterproductive to me in light of artist Kyle McDonald's covertly acquired photographs of supposely intelligent people staring at new Apple computers with totally robotic expressions on their faces.

Although online education is now being ballyhooed as a cost-saving measure, the valuable elements of education are most efficiently transferred in a human to human interface that allows the student’s mirror neurons an opportunity to learn the intellectual behaviors of educated minds in a process similar to learning to dance. Staring at a computer won't teach anyone the most important elements of what we might call “the dance of the intellect among facts” ... so it is important to remember that reading books and attending lectures have never been important to the ill-educated.
I will see many of you at the Messiah Sing In on Tuesday, December 8, at 8 p.m. in Old Cabell Hall? ... God willing.

Is it true that the University of Virginia is now being funded at a per-student rate approximately equal to the funding of community college students in North Carolina? or does North Carolina actually appropriate more for its community college students than Virginia appropriates for the University? Shame, shame, shame on you Ms. Dragas -- for being such a patsy.

@Moi ... fyi, the University was left off Playboy's first poll of party schools because "it isn't fair to include professionals with amateurs." After the Mad Bowl mud bath was closed down, the party moved out to Biscuit Run for a while. RIP David Breeden ....

@Citizen Party...Well said. Way to bring a little common sense to the discussion.

@ Logan Anderson (PR firm of H&K) - you don't know what you are talking about. Dragas needs to resign because she cannot even meet a deadline to respond to the Southern Assoc. of Colleges and Schools regarding UVA's accreditation.

Dragas is a complete failure. Rector Dragas is an embarrassment to the UVA community, and this mess is just getting worse.

No other U is governed like BoV at UVA. Dysfunctional leadership is not leadership.

Dragas is a complete failure & must resign.

President Sullivan to the BoV
New York Times, June 2012

“Trust does not mean an absence of disagreement, but it requires that disagreements be frankly discussed. No matter how accomplished he or she may be, a president cannot read minds. When you choose a new president, tell him or her what you are thinking...”

"...Deans and provosts at every peer institution are setting aside funds now to raid the University of Virginia next year given the current turmoil on our campus,” she said.

And, now UVA's accreditation is a stake. Thanks Dragas.

Funny how arrogant it is for you to believe the only Dragas/Bov supporters work for a PR firm. Sorry to say you are wrong about this as well as just about all the other so called facts you spew. Constant hissing...don't you ever tire of it?

Dragas is incompetent and should find herself another Research University to ruin.

@Logan - you have said all this before. Dr. Sullivan is an excellent leader and the UVA community is behind her.

Another example of Dragas' failure to lead the BoV:

UVA Board's Lazy Business Sense
by: David Karpf

"The larger point is that the Board of Visitors has misread their business textbooks. Brooks writes, "What happened to the newspaper and magazine business is about to happen to higher education: a rescrambling around the Web." Rector Dragas, Vice Rector Kington and the rest of their cabal took him too literally. To put it bluntly, they're just plain wrong.

This is a common misunderstanding of disruption theory. Clayton Christensen coined the term in his 1997 book, The Innovator's Dilemma. He has written a series of popular business titles on the topic ever since. Disruptive innovations are ones that undermine existing markets, leveling unsuspecting market leaders. The Internet is often treated as One Big Disruption. That's fine shorthand if you're writing a pithy op-ed, but it misses some important nuance: what drives disruptive innovation is the collapse of revenue streams, not the appearance of competition."

@Christian Gehman: "After the Mad Bowl mud bath was closed down, the party moved out to Biscuit Run for a while."

What years were these?

Online classes could have a limited but vital role to play at a university. When I worked at Va Tech, faculty on campus were hearing many negative comments from students about online classes. These students, enrolled on campus, often took an occasional online course , and felt that the live face to face classroom was much better. I did a study of all students taking online classes and stratified it by distance from campus. Students who lived near Tech and were taking online classes were not satisfied with their experience. But as moved out away from Tech in 20 mile increments, those negative comments gradually changed to real apprecialtion for the opportunity to take online classes at a great distance (50 miles plus). and amazement at how intimate and exiciting the online experience could be. My conclusion: online classes should never be seen as a replacement for college face to face class, but can be a vital supplement to the overall educational experience.

@Christian Gehman:
"it isn't fair to include professionals with amateurs." LOL

"After the Mad Bowl mud bath was closed down, the party moved out to Biscuit Run for a while."
"What years were these?"
UVA's hedonistic years in the 1970s when the depraved ones first saw girls on campus. Those years are back as the playboy ranking confirms. We're in the era where "jersey shore" and the "kardashians" are role models for success and celebrity.

@H - "Dragas is incompetent and should find herself another Research University to ruin."

Dragas' days are limited. UVA's accreditation is at stake.

@non-smoker - funny stuff!

@Feets - who owns Biscuit Run?

"Big chill: Biscuit Run presaged Wintergreen money mess"
By Hawes Spencer |
Feb. 6, 2012

"Despite– in a deal reminiscent of Biscuit Run– scooping up $4.6 million from taxpayers four years ago, Wintergreen Partners Inc. has reportedly defaulted on its loan from Bank of America and now implores members to voluntarily lend it $6 million to save the company from bankruptcy."

Seems anything related to UVA has some kind of money mess associated with it; yes?

Amazing that accreditation is at stake, and yet there are no voices from the UVA community. What gives? Think about the consequences of losing our accreditation. Fewer high caliber graduate applicants, loss of esteemed faculty, loss of staff, loss of financial dollars. Loss of accreditation should command a rebellion at UVA campus.

Excellent analysis Mr. Gunter.
I understood that Logan had promised to leave the building some time ago.
@ Logan please comply, no one wants to hear you.

If the accreditation is at stake, this faculty only has itself to blame, and they know it. Go ahead and throw your punch. It's only an opinion. We'll see what history decides.

History decided pretty fast Logan - by history being made in the response to reinstate Sullivan. I think the little people have been pushed just one mile too far by corporate know-it-alls and CEO I lead the world rubbish. no, Donald Trumps method of leadership tends to fail in terms of long term change and organizational unity via change. Especially when dealing with smart people who aren't always totally motivated by the almighty dollar.


OK, I guess, but not answering the question at hand. There's been a claim that some sort of Easters equivalent was moved to Biscuit Run at some point after the party was banned at UVa itself in 1982.

I'm just asking for dates, because I've never heard of this.

It might be of interest to some that the Treasurer of the ACTA Board is Lee Goodman, longtime Virginia Republican activist and former right hand to Jim Glimore, both in the AG's and Governor's office.

Thanks Peter Gunter! 40 years later I still remember your scout camp horror story: "...he climbed the rope over the cliff edge he stared into the vulture's face."

Kinda the same story actually.

Dragas' leadership has put accreditation in jeopardy - Lack thereof...

Logan, you are embarrassing UVA with your false claims.

it's time for some input from Kieran Healy. Remember his 'Declaration of Independence

Yes, and behind it all is the need to find another scam to make a bubble with. The education thing is a lot like the housing scheme in that both are viewed as good and worthy things. This allows a coallition to form that will support the direction of public monies into the system (e.g. housing loan guarantees -> student loan guarantees). Private sector businesses get in on the act through the for-profit universities, stocks soar and derivatives are sold until the whole mess is over leveraged and it comes crashing down. A few people make out really really well, the banks get bailouts and the US treasury gets more debt, more currency gets printed and round and round she goes.

Sullivan's leadership has put the University in jeopardy. You will have to face that sooner or later. Very sorry to say the University missed a golden opportunity. You are entitled to your opinion and I am entitled to mine. The University will be "drifting in yesterday" for many years. Go ahead and accuse me of all your ugly thoughts. It is true and I am an alum too. So there you go.

It is Dragas' leadership that has placed UVA's accreditation at risk. Dragas is pulling the U down with her.

After Dragas' attempted to blindside the president, she had an opportunity to demonstrate leadership and resign. She did not. Dragas' failed coup has presented nothing but problems for the U. She failed. Her actions have tarnished UVA's image.

You are tarnishing UVA's image. You clearly didn't attend UVA. Honor...I think you picked the wrong name. Great job last night. 60 people showed up.

If the BOV had done their work in the light of day, with some honor and integrity, the facts of the matter of Terry Sullivan's leadership could have been discussed rationally. I personally think she is doing an ok job. I wish she would back off on the speed of the budget model changes, that she would clean out the plantation culture, and replace some deans who have already bought into the corporate model and increase faculty input processes.

Somehow Logon has lost the ability of causal reasoning. Dragas and the BOV started the whole debacle with their dishonorable, back room, corporate, privatization scheming with who knows what help and support from outside sources. When one BOV member spends hundreds of thousands of dollars on corporate PR and then another millionaire BOV comes into rescue her and pay the bill, you know the whole system is corrupt and off base. There was obviously no reasonable evidence that Siullivan had dropped the ball to deserve the treatment she received or they would have done it in the light of day. If the University is going to be drifting in yesterday for many years it is a direct consequence of Dragas and the BOV cabal motivations and actions. The longer they all stay the longer the historical analysis continues providing ample time for the Legislature to fix the entire structural problem of appointments.

Time to remove the cancer of corporate domination of public university governance.

Dragas needs to get out of Dodge. She needs to go asap.
One of the most appalling things she has done, of which we have proof, the emails to the student representative Ms Hurd, is to attempt to influence a student to violate the honour code. Is this not a form of harassment, using one's position to influence a student to do something dishonourable? If for no other reason the Governor should have fired her, but he didn't. What does that reveal about him and the rest of his advisors? Dragas wrote the letters not the rest of the BOV.

Rector Dragas' poor leadership lead to chaos at UVA. This is not the way to govern a Research U.

President Sullivan has demonstrated excellent leadership and management of UVA under extraordinary obstacles created by the Rector. Dr. Sullivan is moving the U forward with the support of faculty, staff and the entire UVA community.

Remember Darden grads: "The absence of leadership should not be confused with the type of leadership that calls for 'no action' to be taken"

President Sullivan could not take action during the accreditation mess because it was a conflict of interest. President Sullivan was not involved with the attempted coup to have herself fired. All blame is Dragas'. Dragas didn't even respond to the accreditation committees' deadline for a response.

The BoV must act to prevent UVA from losing its' accreditation.

"Also, what is often referred to as "participative management" can be a very effective form of leadership. In this approach, a new direction may seem to emerge from the group rather than the leader. However, the leader has facilitated that new direction whilst also engendering ownership within the group - i.e., it is an advanced form of leadership."

In less than 2 years, President Sullivan has been facilitating enormous changes at the UVA. She has participated fully with the faculty, staff and U community, in managing UVA resources and propelling changes to make UVA a better research and higher learning institution.


@CP - we definitely need to have the corporate dollars removed from public universities.

When it comes to funding U's, I don't understand the distinction between public and private. Particularly when a public U's majority of funding is coming from corporate America.

There should be a means test of some kind. What happens if McDonnell decides that 5% is enough for the U?

@PK - Funny stuff! Actually, the Rector probably read "50 Shades of Grey" trilogy, and now she can't think straight.

Is this a sign? "Helen Dragas hasn't backed off the Board of Visitors, but she has backed out of purchasing an Albemarle estate that had been providing a home away from home in the bucolic serenity of rural Albemarle County."

The Hook, 9/28/2012, by: Courtney Stewart

Would that it were a sign, A-P. But, I fear it is no more so than the unused resignation notices her publicity firm drafted for her.

Carol Wood is resigning according to CVILLE. When will Patricia Lampkin resign?

this article points out one failure i feel does not get enough attention. local governments across the country continue to cut education budgets, and then turn around and decry the failure of public education. i send my kids to a private school because of this.

this school year, i attended back to school night at baker butler where my daughter and listened to how their SOL scores have been getting lower for the last 3+ years now. no outline in what is going to be done, just a "i have been meeting with the teachers to discuss how to improve this."

counter this with st. anne's where not only do they outline their curriculum, but map out their 5 year curriculum strategy and describe the challenges they see ahead and announce the steps they are taking to address them. they engage the parents and teachers to help solve these problems. they raise the bar of expectations of the kids. it's night and day between the 2 environments. our public schools have great teachers but are continually handcuffed by poor administration and lack of support by local government with continual education budget cuts.

our kids becomes the losers in this game of chicken. this is why we are currently making arrangements to get our last daughter into st. anne's so she has a chance.

Moi is - Toril Moi (born 1953 in Norway) is James B. Duke Professor of Literature and Romance Studies and Professor of English, Philosophy and Theatre Studies at Duke University. Previously she held positions as a lecturer in French at the University of Oxford and as Director of the Center for Feminist Research at the University of Bergen, Norway. She works on feminist theory and women's writing; on the intersections of literature, philosophy and aesthetics; on "finding ways of reading literature with philosophy and philosophy with literature without reducing the one to the other."

Teril Moi is also on The Johns Hopkins University New Literary History Advisory Board - Advisory Editor.

Why is Teril Moi trying to sabotage the UVA? We pay you for your lectures. Go trash your own universities.

@ DS -...and your private school child does not have to be educated with non-English speaking students who did not score above the 132 IQ? Your child did not have any conflict at the family level nor was diagnosed with PTSD due to abuse, right? Your kid is not hungry in the morning, right?

All stats bear out that the "no kid left behind" is a disservice to the poor and disadvantaged - the very kids the program was suppose to help. Figures!

When the playing field is fair for all kids, I will listen. Otherwise, just go pay for your kid's private education...and get off this page!

sorry - no DS, but IC - failure of "no kid's left behind" comment

BOV comes in at 5 for worst ideas in 2012.

@ Dragas: Please don't take the rest of us down with you! Dragas is the worst leadership UVA has had to content with EVER. Better to have no leadership at all than the Titanic/Dragas fiasco.

@UVA BoV: How was wine tasting this weekend; yep, I was there. How sick!

Concerned UVa Alum,

Are you serious? This embarrassing group of incompetents and thugs actually appearing at public social events? That would really be strange. They should be keeping a very low profile, as they draft their resignations. If your report is accurate, we really need the GA to act forcefully and decisively to rid the University of this scourge.

Getting rid of Dragas just gets rid of the face of the coup. Not the cause.
During the emergency session to get rid of Sullivan, Gov McD was in Europe. He came home for a day and went to Romney's event in Utah , where would be VP's and cabinet members were paraded. From there, the Gov went to the Koch Brother's retreat. Do you think McDonnell got any marching orders at either event? Rumor has it the Koch Brothers think McDonnell has potential to be president.
Who was the puppet master behind Dragas? She is not smart enough to have done this on her own. She is not a leader. Was it Kirk? Was it Nau? Was it Paul Tutor Jones? Was it McDonnell? And do some or all of them answer to the Koch Brothers?

@gggrr: That is the point Peter Gunter makes in this article. A;so see the illustration above the article. It reinforces his point about McDonell's ambitions

The only embarrassment here is that the people who comment on slime like the Hook are total losers with nothing else to do but criticize and berate others. Half of you don't even have a dog in this fight, you just want to argue to argue. Get over yourselves and go back to work and teach the students. Oh yeh, the students. You seem to have forgotten about them, right? Your turnout last week was lousy because people want to move on. Jeezzzzzz....

@Chris, If The Hook is slime why are you here. Losers you said? Move on

agree, outragedalumna.

this chris character comes under several names; all dysfunctional, all illiterate, and all supportive in a completely unconvincing way of the main problem, ms. dragas. i don't know. but, like many, many others have suggested, these names front for some paid voice of ms. dragas, that is not worth whatever mr. nau is paying them for their unconvincing, irresponsible and pathetic service to this failed rector. ms. dragas simply doesn't understand that she needs to move on. she failed in her wrongheaded coup and has, by her continuing presence, rendered good governance at the University impossible. although "chris" is not worth reading -- even by his own argument -- grrr may be right. nevertheless, when dragas is removed, great progress will have been made, and the stiffling voices of ms. kilberg and mr. goodwin will be compromised, or perhaps rendered moot.

@Eurohoo. grrr. is right, but what I wanted to point out is that our comments are responses to Peter Gunter's article and this is exactly what Gunter is saying. Now we all need to do something about communication if we are to act as one. I was unaware of the Town Hall Meeting with the State legislators last Thursday and my family of five would have attended, had we known. Many of us interested parties live far out of town, and in other States, so it takes some planning to be in C'ville but we will come for important occasions. I did attend a function this last Sunday and found that many of the attendees were like myself. They did not know about the Town Hall Meeting and would have attended as well.

I, too, was unaware of the Town Hall Meeting with state legislators last Thursday. I would have attended.
@ Courtney Stewart -- the home Mas Dragas might have considered purchasing could have contained Chinese wallboard?

Now, as to the problem with the members of the BoV not being accountable to the University's Honor Code, the the simplest solution would be: make them all either "students" or "Professors" whose responsibility, once a year, would be to give a one hour seminar presentation at the school of their choice at UVA ....

You deleted all my posts. When this story breaks in the next few months I will certainly not consider the Hook as a venue. I also noticed the recent uptick in online ads by UVA. How transparent!

My apologies to the hook. I was very mistaken.

Top 3 posts by RNC. I know this style because I dated the head of the RNC in California. He, as an individual ranked as the the worst person I ever met. Didn't even have money to take care of his empty pool in Sacramento, Ca. He even suggested that the Republican base in California was being stooged by pretend running mates who were gay democrats. How low can the RNC go on like this? This occurred during Schwartenegger's run for governor. We know how credible Arnold was, right Maria? Ashcroft was speaking in the Sacramento Valley.

moi, can you email me your deleted posts please?

@Logan - Run for office why don't you? But, by the way, you seem to have forgotten the old joke "How many Virginians does it take to change a light bulb?" (answer: three -- one to change the bulb and two to talk about how good the old one was .... )

@Obama has my Republican vote. Please explain. Did you wonder into the wrong room?

And as for Ms. Dragas's comment quoted in the Washington Post "Dragas said: “I sincerely apologize for the way that this was presented.” ... what is most significant, is that Ms. Dragas's comment includes no apology to the University FOR HER ACTIONS in embroiling it in such a ridiculously pointless brouhaha, BUT ONLY EXCUSES "THE WAY IT WAS PRESENTED." Clearly, as for Ms. Dragas "She's Gotta Go" is the conclusion the other members of the BoV logically should come to, if only because Ms. Dragas so egregiously claimed the work product of Hill + Knowlton as her own work. Clearly, Hill + Knowlton has other clients whose agendas might have been well-served by Ms. Dragas's actions had they succeeded, and it is long past time to eliminate the influence of Hill + Knowlton from the Board of Visitors, where it now functions as a "shadow" member.

Just curious. Why would anyone date any head of the RNC? Strange what comes up on these posts.

@outragedal -- there's really no telling what strange conjunctions may transpire in the dating scene in Orange County (birthplace of the blessed John Birch Society) -- or any other part of California. Arnold and Maria might be another example .... Mentioning this personal experience as an intensifier for the verity of the factoids presented is amusing, but hardly persuasive.