Prospective presidents: How they might appeal to the BOV

It has long been an intriguing question. Did the leaders of the ouster of UVA President Teresa Sullivan have someone in mind when they made their daring weekend move?

“It’s really too early to judge this decision. This decision should be judged after a new president is installed."– Rector Helen Dragas to Washington Post, circa June 10.

She repeated that assertion, nearly verbatim, to UVA Deans that same day, although she subsequently clarified that a full search process would follow the ouster she engineered. But whoever gets chosen by any search committee would need to win the support of the Board of Visitors. Who could do that? We decided to see who might find favor with the current Board.

Rating scale: 1-5 Rotundas

Edward Miller

Edward MillerHe already told his hometown newspaper, the Baltimore Sun, that he was tapped to become the interim president. Unlike the eventually named Carl Zeithaml, however (who didn't even get a 24-hour honeymoon), Miller, an anesthesiologist, ducked out of the role before his name surfaced publicly. That shows quick decision-making, and what some might call strategic dynamism. As the longtime CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine, Miller won acclaim for taking Hopkins to new heights. With Time magazine asking whether med center woes caused "UVA June," Miller might be the man to steer the ship to success. Since his June 30 Hopkins retirement, Miller has thrown himself into a new task, joining the UVA Board as a full voting member– though he hasn't donated so much as a penny to a governor. Kind of a mixed message.
Popularity with BOV:

Tom Farrell

Tom FarrellWhere do we start with this one? Let's start recently when the governor tapped Farrell to chair the commission to reform Virginia's system of higher education. Now, let's go back a few years to when he was a student at Bishop Ireton High School in Alexandria. There, Farrell became close friends with a lad named Robert McDonnell. They both chose different colleges and different law schools (Farrell stuck with UVA for both). But guess what? They're still close friends. Only now, one of them runs the state government, and the other runs the biggest state-regulated monopoly. And the board running the monopoly– and we're not making this up– sees fit to pay Farrell $14 million a year. That's right, while nearly every business in the world (even giants like Apple and Coca-Cola) have to clamor for market share– Dominion (though it has some free-market divisions) enjoys exclusive rights to millions of electric customers in Virginia and North Carolina. And Dominion's board members don't just pay the CEO handsomely; they also pay themselves handsomely: approximately $200,000 a year each for what amounted, last year, to just 11 meetings. We pressed Dominion for attendance records, but the company flack would say only that all board members attended at least 75 percent of the meetings. One member of the Dominion board is named Mark Kington. Another is named Helen Dragas. One more thing. Word leaked out two years ago that Tom Farrell wanted the UVA presidency. He didn't get it that time. How about next time?
Popularity with BOV:


Carly Fiorina

Carly FiorinaIs the governor trying to help this former Hewlett-Packard CEO establish some education credentials as a stepping stone to UVA? We didn't even realize that the former Silicon Valley superstar was a Virginia resident until the July 9 press release from Bob McDonnell's office naming her– as a resident of Lorton– to the James Madison University board. The timing, less than a month after the failed coup at UVA, raised eyebrows. Just two years ago, Fiorina was running as a California-based Republican against longtime Senator Barbara Boxer. While California voters overwhelmingly chose Boxer, Fiorina has earned her share of accolades. She got an endorsement from Sarah Palin, and Portfolio magazine named her one of America's worst CEOs. While earning a reported $86 million in salary, benefits, and options at the helm of H-P, she offshored thousands of jobs, but the company still lost half its value during her time at the helm. When the H-P board finally fired her, she got another $21 million as a golden parachute. Governor McDonnell says she's now the chairman of Carly Fiorina Enterprises. Money, business experience, and a Palin endorsement– she's executive timber at UVA.
Popularity with BOV:


Penelope Kyle

Penelope KyleWith a business degree from William & Mary and a law degree earned right here in Charlottesville, Kyle is no stranger to higher education in Virginia. Moreover, like Tom Farrell, she has experience in running a monopoly: the Virginia Lottery. She was appointed Lottery director by George Allen and then reappointed by Jim Gilmore and Mark Warner. But it's her work at Radford University that suggests just how compatible she is with the BOV– or at least with current UVA boardie and former Radford boardie Randal Kirk. As Kirk was working his way up to the rectorship of that southwestern Virginia institution, Kyle assumed the presidency and then pushed a remarkable array of reforms. She controversially decided to accept $750,000 from BB&T for a course whose only reading requirement was Atlas Shrugged, the 1957 book that's become the capitalist manifesto. According to the Roanoke Times, she even suggested Kirk as a possible guest speaker. The following year, Kyle gave the heads of 29 fields just two weeks to justify their existence or face closure. Such seemingly essential departments as anthropology, chemistry, foreign languages, physics, and even mathematics had just 14 days to prove they contributed to Radford's future and core curriculum. Willing to make unpleasant business decisions, Kyle is someone the UVA Board could rally around.
Popularity with BOV:


Ed Ayers

By all accounts, he was the main man for whom alumni and faculty were clamoring during the presidential search two years ago. And who can blame them? Like the eventual winner of that contest, Teresa Sullivan, Ayers is a noted scholar with administrative experience. In his case, the admin chops consist of serving as the Dean of the College at UVA and, more recently, the presidency of the University of Richmond. Other Sullivan-Ayers similarities include an outgoing style and plenty of smiles. To that, Ayers holds the additional attribute of having a national profile via his radio work as a host of the now-weekly NPR radio program BackStory with the American History Guys. And, in what might particularly endear him to Rector Dragas, he's a co-creator of an acclaimed online project. However, there are things about Ayers that could doom his chances with this board. For starters, his online work, called The Valley of the Shadow, is built on his nationally-regarded Civil War scholarship, and that war is old and controversial. Moreover, he doesn't seem to have any experience with monopolies– or any profit-seeking business. And he's popular with students, alumni, and fellow faculty members. Doesn't he know who runs this university?
Popularity with BOV:

Read more on: UVA Board of Visitors


Poor Ed Ayers. "For starters, his online work, called The Valley of the Shadow, is built on his nationally-regarded Civil War scholarship, and that war is old and controversial." Perhaps he would be UVa's president today if only he had studied a newer, less controversial war. And Tom Farrell , because he works for a state-controlled monopoly is therefore not worthy of consideration? As far as I can tell, he does a pretty fine job running that behemoth.

" to pay Farrell $14 million a year." And electricity prices keep rising - I wonder why ?

Think about it- faculty salaries are frozen and many have seen their paychecks cut, but these CEO's are earning astronomical amounts of money. Just look at what the CEO of UVa earns in comparison, President Sullivan. Something is wrong with this picture.

Running a private monopoly does not necessarily qualify someone to run a public educational institution.

A noted lack of diversity among those considered.

Ah, yes, diversity. UVa needs a half-black, half-latino woman with a physical disability. Hey, maybe a learning disability, too! There, all the squares filled.

@Ty Cooper...I don't think the men and women here were necessarily "those considered". There is a lot of speculation in this article. I have no way of knowing who might have been a possible candidate, nor does Mr. Spencer. Listen in on any conversation regarding this and you'll hear a long list of names mentioned, some with strong Virginia connections and some with none. Unless I hear it from the rector, I have to consider any guesses as to possible candidates to be just that....and pure speculation.

Good point History. But what when the mere speculation is pure whitewash how are we to trust that the actual search will plumb the depths of diversity to find the candidate who is truely most deserving and ecumenical to the task at hand?

Ty, I believe, according to the Hook's own guidelines, racial slurs will not be permitted. And that is exactly what you did by calling me "whitey". Here's hoping they give you fair warning.

I got an email. They deleted my post not because of your so-called "slur" but because I had mentioned an upcoming show I was promoting. But it was a good try to change the real focus of the debate off the lack of diversity.

Waal, here's what might be a slightly new thought: instead of asking the members of the BOV to swear to abide by the University's Honor Code, why not subject them to the Honor code by redefining them as "students"? This would mean that their work on the Board, including any public statements they might make, would be subject to the Honor Code. The most egregious example of Ms. Dragass's mismanagement came when she tried to pass off Hill + Knowlton's work as her own. Previously, Ms. Dragass had been quite successful at concealing Hill + Knowlton's involvement with her "thought," which leads some of us to think Ms. Dragass might have not only the brains of a twit but also the morals of a bootlegger. It seems very likely that any of several other members of the BoV would have managed things better. Hubris is as hubris does. Pride goeth before a fall. I would say, perhaps we should egg her on to posterity ... until she disappears from the campus! ... but that would just be a waste of eggs.

Edward Miller, MD was intended to replace President Sullivan.

A few things went wrong. Rector Dragas coup attempt to oust President Sullivan failed miserably. Ed Miller's cohert, Michael Strine, also from John's Hopkins was asked to leave UVA in August.

Helen Dragas, Gov. McDonnell, Ed Miller, MD, Michael Strine, Kington, Jones and Kiernan were responsible for the attempted firing of President Sullivan. FOIA from Hook and Washington Post will continue to connect the dots.

UVA Today, May 12, 2012 & Aug. 7, 2012
By: Carol S. Wood

May 12, 2011: "Sullivan Names Johns Hopkins' Michael Strine as University's Executive VP and COO" - FOIA requested by Washington Post will reveal much about Dragas' relationship with Michael Strine.

August 7, 2012: "Sullivan says UVa 'will not skip a beat' as COO Strine resigns
UVa (&) names successor..."

And, according to sources from the post, Helen Dragas forced Dr. Sullivan to hire Michael Strine. Little did Dr. Sullivan know that Dragas was setting her up for failure. Michael Strine supported Dragas in firing President Sullivan. Ed Miller, MD, was to replace Dr. Sullivan upon his retiring at John's Hopkins. Presently, old Ed is on the BoV at UVA. What a debacle. How completely embarrassing for UVA community.

FOIA emails, pending release, will vet out the fact that Edward Miller, MD was the chosen UVA President. Ed Miller was to lead the Medical Center and that's it. Ed Miller was to rely on others for leadership at the "rest of the U".

Yep, that's what the 'rest' of UVA is considered outside the Medical Center. Ed Miller would have succeeded had Michael Strine had not been outed as a co-conspirator with Helen Dragas. Michael Strine was forced to resign.

Leadership (not) at its best! You go UVA Cavaliers! I won't be there.

Helen Dragas believes in throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Interesting that I have never heard of this type of leadership.

This sad state of affairs spells indicates lack of leadership at best. Why can't Helen Dragas just resign?

oops. sad state of affairs at UVA spells/indicates a lack of leadership...

Why does the Darden school teach leadership of this nature? We don't understand.

None of this debacle at UVA has to do with diversity. Poor leaders, like Rector Dragas should be relieved of their responsibilities immediately. I don't care who she/he is. Diversity has nothing to do with this lack of leadership among the BoV.

@TC - if you are self-promoting some gig, you are wrong to do it here. The Hook has every reason to remove personal ads. Contact the advertising department, and move on.

@CG - interesting point of view. Very relevant.