Transparency now: Protestors call for Dragas' resignation

A group of University of Virginia undergraduates, graduate students, and a few faculty members, marched across Grounds today to a meeting of the Board of Visitors at the Harrison Institute to demand an array of changes including the resignation of its leader, Rector Helen Dragas.

Associate Dean of Students Aaron Laushway told the group that only seven students could be admitted to the basement room where the meeting was to take place despite the room's official capacity of 307.  Seven students took the seats, waving signs during the meeting, but never saying a word. For about an hour of the meeting, there was no official mention of the sign-toting students.

"It was as though we were invisible," said protestor Laura Goldblatt, who described some official statements made to the students before the meeting started as "intimidation."

"We were reminded as we went in that we weren't allowed to speak," said fellow protestor Dannah Dennis, noting that student affairs V-P Patricia Lampkin issued the warning.

The warnings intensified during a break following the main portion of the meeting. The seven students present for the meeting went back upstairs to the vestibule of the Harrison Institute to reunite with the rest of the protestors (totaling approximately 20 students at that point). Dean Laushway then told the  group to leave the premises. With 18 armed UVA Police officers ushering protestors– and even media– outside, Dean Laushway was asked why they couldn't stay.

"If you try to come in the building, there will be consequences," said Laushway.

At least five times, Laushway was asked what the consequences might be. As the question was asked again and the tension escalated, Laushway finally produced a piece of paper whose text he read aloud.

He said students who failed to immediately disperse from the building might be breaking Virginia law and could face school sanctions "up to and including termination from the University."

That– and the glares of the 18 uniformed officers– dispersed the students, who reconvened moments later inside Brooks Hall. Earlier, they had announced an interest in avoiding arrest or any jeopardy to their status as students.

"We played by the rules and still we were threatened with expulsion," said protestor Dennis. "Welcome to the BOV's University of Virginia."

After the students were gone, Dean Laushway was asked why he warned the students about expulsion, and he denied making such a warning. A reporter reminded him that he used the phrase "termination from the university."

"I have never known anyone expelled for speaking," said Laushway. "I was trying to engage the students, which is my job."

Later, sitting behind Rector Dragas, a journalist handed her a hand-written message asking whether she supported the treatment and asking why she never acknowledged the protestors' wish to speak. She referred the questions to the president and the chief operating officer.


The next day, UVA Police spokesperson Melissa Fielding said that additional police are "standard procedure" during a board protest and released the text of Laushway's warning.

It turns out that the warning comes from a stock UVA statement, which, according to its own text, should be read by an administrator "in the event that a demonstration blocks access to University facilities or otherwise interferes with the normal operation of the University."

"There's no evidence there was any disruption whatsoever," says Charlottesville civil rights attorney Jeff Fogel, blasting as bogus Laushway's seven-seat limit when others, including the Hook's reporter/photographer, were allowed to walk around the meeting.

Fogel recalls how UVA got into trouble with constitutional rights scholars several years ago when it briefly banned fans from carrying signs into Scott Stadium after students hoisted placards denouncing then football coach Al Groh.

"There is nothing more scurrilous under the First Amendment than making distinction on what they say," says Fogel, noting that UVA proceeded to fire the coach whose poor win-loss record prompted the signs.

"Their principal threat is to throw them out of the school," says Fogel. "That's quite an attitude at a university whose presumptive purpose is the exploration of ideas."

UVA COO Patrick Hogan said he could meet with a reporter "next week."

–story last updated 12:07pm Friday

–subsequent story: Sullivan's extension: And other things out of Dragas' control

This story is a part of the President Sullivan retakes the reins special.


Good for the students. Thank you. Being questioned by the accrediting board cannot be swept under the rug. That was a horrible letter that the BOV submitted.

Good for you, students! Had I known you were protesting I would have joined you - Dragas needs to go.

What Level of detail do they want about President Sullivan's firing? What purpose would it serve? How does this not lead to more embarrassment for President Sullivan and the University?

also would have come had I known about this action. My tax dollars paying for 18 cops (a bit much) to watch students. Really??? Welcome to the new and kinder UVA. Time for Dragas to go.

Engage the students? In what a rumble? This is Thomas Jefferson's University? Free speech and demonstration? Threats of expulsion? Why didn't the University expel Huguely for his behavior which was far more atrocious? Or the many young men who have raped young women there?

@Kind Campaign - they don't want to know more - they want Dragas to go! What are you a plant from UVA? How can she continue to stay where she isn't wanted? Nor is she needed. Bet my bottom dollar SHE had something to do with this.

The University has it's priorities all wrong and more and more know of this, they will not have donations, they will not have students enroll.

Laushway is a reprehensible stooge.

this is a disgrace - laushway should be run out on a rail

Kind Campaign - I expect they are concerned about the secret meetings held with individuals or pairs of the Board members to skirt the open meeting laws and build the "consensus" Dragas claimed to have. They might also want to know what outside influences were involved - were they concerned alumni? political cronies? people with axes to grind? They might want to know why there was no public discussion of the Board being very dissatisfied with the direction of the University - to the point of firing the President? Etc., etc.

Don't pin Laushway's and Lampkins' behavior on Dragas -- they both work for, and are loyal supporters of, Sullivan. Bet big bucks that they were only doing what they were told to do, by the person who gives them their orders -- the president. Now poor Laushway looks foolish, as reward for his loyalty. Guess he hasn't had much experience in dealing with the press, if he thinks he can deny his own recorded words. Dumping Dragas would do nothing to address what causes episodes like this to recur.

STB - agreed. This was a travesty all round, and Laushway - deserving though he is of approbation for his toadying and apparent inability to remember the threats he's thrown around like confetti - & Dragas are only a small part of the overall lack of accountability that is beginning to define the governing body of UVA.

@ Spread the Blame: Lampkin and Laushway are old guard leftovers of Casteen's regime. They don't listen to Sullivan.

Cant even hand a hanger even. Sad....

Perfect timing. Elections are over and there's a need for a focus of all the surplus bile and vitriol. And Dragas is so worthy.



time for Dean Laushway to leave as well.

I agree that what is decribed in this story is awful treatment and the students should be allowed to peacefully sit in the meeting and listen, but Why does it say a reporter handed her a note, when it was actually the reporter who wrote this story, saw a pic posted on Facebook with the note and it was signed Hawes Spencer. Can we have transparency from the press please!

I wish 'Ol Mike Tyson could get hold of Dragas about 3 days. She NEEDS it bad. Her "husband" must be one of those "girly-boys".

Dragas' resignation has been requested hundreds of times; on the forefront and not disguised. Dragas must resign due to her horrible decisions which have discredited the UVA.

And, further, her choices have jeopardized the accreditation of the University of Virginia. Jeopardizing the UVA accreditation in any way suggests NO LEADERSHIP. NON.

We do not know what the accreditation committee will do...We do know that Dragas has brought the UVA to its lowest and this should not be.

Dragas must resign for the betterment of the UVA.

I am siding with the students. Get rid of Dragas.

My daughter just graduated and her explanation of events have proven to discredit Dragas on all fronts. Get rid of Dragas.

Please resign Ms. Dragas! Any parent that does not support their child's view on THEIR University, UVA, should just turn off their computer and go to bed. These 'adult' children have a voice and should be heard. Dragas is not suitable BoV material. The sooner she is gone, the better.

Please resign Ms. Dragas! For our children, please resign. You have no credibility among 80% of the students at UVA. Please resign.

Message to students - call John Whitehead at the Rutherford Institute. Your rights are being trampled

THis is a disgrace. RESIGN DRAGAS before you destroy the university!!!

Please make sure the Washington Post reporters hear about this! They've been following it too.

It will be interesting to see if the students can generate a reaction to this. The BOV meeting continues today. I wonder if the response would be the same to 18 students as it would be to 1800 students? In the same way that protests arose quickly this summer, can the students step up and generate that level of activity?

I commend Mr. Kingston for his honorable and professional decision to resign as soon as the ill-conceived coup Ms. Dragas, Mr. Kirk and he orchestrated, failed. Ms Dragas's irresponsible, Assad-like failure to do the same has jeopardized the accreditation of the University, with no other reason. The protests of the students, who are simply following the unanimous opinion of every other group affected by or interested in the University, as well as the reactionary response to their peaceful and concerned demonstrations made in the best interests of the University, are natural consequences of Ms. Dragas's incompetent siege mentality which, as all her actions, are purely self-serving, and run contrary to the interests of both good governance in general and the University of Virginia, specifically. I would recommend that everyone do whatever he or she can to engage your representatives in the General Assembly to end the Dragas encampment, where she serves no good purpose.

This is yet one more reason that Dragas should resign. She and her clones including the current governor of Virginia, those with Romnesia and others on the BOV who seem to have selective memory about the Honor code need to step aside. This incident has finished McDonnell's political career.

Seems as if the Bill of Rights is now being ignored at UVa. What ever happened to freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom of expression.

President Sullivan needs to do some housecleaning in the Student Affairs area. I'd suggest that she start at the top and fire all from the vp on down. It is a disgrace to UVa that the group charged with helping students would do and say the things the did in this matter. How about them doing their jobs and work on excessive drinking, drug dealing on the Lawn, rape and murder?

Time for a change!

I don't know Laushway, but he does not have a reputation as the kind of thug or boor that is being represented. As far as I can tell, he is well respected among students, faculty and staff. Threatening 'termination' is a pretty severe reaction to peaceful protest. As far as I can tell, termination isn't even a thing that can happen--there is expulsion and suspension and a range of other judiciary sanctions--but termination sounds a bit ominous and strange. Where in the world is that coming from? The only thing that this board seems to respond to are large scale protests.

i think it's less a perception of laushway as thug/boor than of sell-out and traitor to the interests of the students, which does not seem unfair given his behavior here and at the may day rally, where he did basically the same thing. his image in the eyes of students since then has definitely been in decline.

Note Dragas' reaction to receiving Hawes' note -- she said she was passing it along to the president and her chief minion. How the president then responds will perhaps inform us whether it is wise to continue to treat Sullivan as a victim who is allegedly helpless to overcome the evil doings of the BOV and the Casteen-era holdeovers like Laushway and Lampkin, or is instead in full lockstep with trying to make all the bad news just go away. Don't kid yourself -- Sullivan is fully empowered to relegate these people to the sidelines, if she wants to. But whether she does is so far less than "transparent," the trendy buzzword that some seem to now confuse as meaning getting the substantive result they want, rather than merely an explanation for when things don't go their way.

I don't know laushway, either. however, the reports of his reaction to the students who are legitimately concerned about the effect of the intransigent rector dragas, certainly seem to suggest his reactions to be ham-handed, and ridiculously untenable. nevertheless, there may be some reporting errors, or he may have been stressed beyond his abilities, and his sin can easily be forgiven (given that he didnt even acknowledge or perhaps remember having done what he was reported to have done). we all make mistakes. some, however, are incapable of admitting them. the focus should remain on the source of all of the University's problems -- ms. dragas -- who is one such person. unfortunately, people like dragas (think bashar al assad, or, more locally, george huguely) react very badly (destructively) when they are confronted by people not allowing them their own way, and i worry that the student movement might only cause her to dig her stilettos in even deeper. i would encourage the students to not back down, but rather to redouble efforts to put political pressure on every member of the general assembly to help correct the horrible mistake of governor mcdonnell, and invalidate his unwise reappointment of this poison.

"It's not a free speech issue," says Debruyn. "It was a fire, life, and safety issue."

Thanks to careful measuring by the journalist, this excuse is a no go.

Whose side is Sullivan on ?

The only thing this ridiculous event is guaranteed to produce is ongoing controversy. When, oh when, will Helen get the memo and resign?

Never thought I'd be looking back with fondness at the Hereford era at the University. Student protesters then were many and always treated with respect. WTF is Dragas doing to my old school?

"There is only one thing left to say. It may sound nihilistic to you, since it is the opening shot in a war of liberation. I'll use the words of LeRoi Jones, whom I'm sure you don't like a whole lot: "Up against the wall, ***************, this is a stick-up."

Mark Rudd, 1968

Even those in the right will leave when staying will prevent positive recovery. In 1963 Rev. Earl Stallings seated African-American worshipers sent by Dr. King (who had left for Bham immediately after Professor Emeritus Paul Gaston had brought him to UVa to speak at Old Cabell Hall) to the all white Easter service. Rev. Stallings made the correct call. He also made the correct call in leaving when it became clear a new leader was needed to speed the healing within the church. I guess another difference in Rev. Stallings and Helen Dragas other than doing the right thing is he cared about the well being of the institution.

There is nothing in the letter from the protesting students nor shown in the signs yesterday that even mentions the Rector, let alone asking her to step down. Are you all just shills for Dubby Wynne? If you tune into the meeting, it looks to me like everyone at the U is doing their jobs.

Termination is an HR word used for University-initiated to end a staff/faculty member's employment, not a term applicable to students. Maybe the police gave Dean Laushway a statement used to call on faculty/staff to leave a protest site -- I'm thinking Madison Hall and the living wage protests a few years back when President Casteen was still here. Hardly the same thing.

Ever been fired??

I have, but there is no recourse, everyone signs a document stating that the employer or the employee can terminate employment at any time.

Laushway and Dragas have to go. This is despicable. Who do they think they are? This is a public university, not communist China.

@Hoo Cares: The Rector's resignation was in fact an object of the protest. The Hoos University website and Facebook page give 3 objectives, including the immediate resignation of Rector Dragas. My understanding is that a student handed Rector Dragas these objectives along with the open letter offering help in creating more inclusive, democratic governance at UVa.

@Watcher: If you follow the link given in the article above, you can see the text of the statement Dean Laushway read, which includes language about students and employees alike: "violating the University's Standards of Conduct puts employees and students at risk of University discipline up to and including termination from the University, and violations of law may result in criminal prosecution resulting in criminal sanctions." As a student, I would interpret "termination from the University" to mean expulsion. Maybe that's not technically correct somehow, but the ambiguity allows this to be intimidating.

The students stood up for Sullivan. She has turned her back on them. Where is she? Always hiding. The Admin has just proved they are thugs. The Dean of Students office behave like the sopranos. UVA is a model of higher education gone very wrong. There's a lack of leadership and soon the threat of losing accreditation will become a reality the way these thugs are behaving. Where is the benefit? what do they gain with this policy?

The Governor should man up and throw out the entire BoV. This is unacceptable!

Could the latest news that the BOV has extended Sullivan's contract help explain her staff's behavior toward the students ?


The University of Virginia Board of Visitors voted unanimously Friday to extend the five-year contract of President Teresa Sullivan for a sixth year.  Sullivan’s contract will now run through July 31, 2016.  Rector Helen Dragas asked for the motion to be put forward at the conclusion of the board’s three-day meeting this week.  Vice Rector George K. Martin made the motion to extend Sullivan’s contract. "I strongly believe that we have a great president in Terry Sullivan," he said. "She has clearly done an excellent job of leading our University and engaging faculty, students, parents, and alumni. Our University community has confidence in her and has trust in her. This board shares that confidence and trust."


Yeah, the Bov is a joke. Shouldn't the members be thinking "I could be doing something else, getting coffee or gardening or getting that lint out of the dryer. Fun stuff."

If Sullivan sells out to this Board, she will have as awful a legacy as Casteen. Money is not everything.

I propose a rule for commentors. Before you comment, tell us two things:
1. What substantive contribution have you made to made to support UVA in the last 5 years?
2. What is the policy or program objective motivating your comment and how is that linked to making UVA a better place?

This way we will know whether to take your comments seriously or recognize them for what they are.

@ Really

Why don't you start, then?

If the President is committed to working with the Rector, then don't the rest of us owe President Sullivan the courtesy of STFU and letting the two of them do their jobs? The Rector should have stepped down after the attempt to topple the President. But she didn't, was reappointed, and so how exactly does the continued hounding of her help the University? Oh, I forgot. It's FUN!

@ Karbunkle

Your view would be okay, except that in this instance, as has been clearly demonstrated, it gives a pass to those who have no compunction about quashing free speech with threats of arrest and expulsion.

@karbunkle - Don't let the facts get in the way of your narrative!

"In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock." Thomas Jefferson

What principles are we standing on Like a Jeffersonian Rock? A right to reset a BOV agenda to suit the protesters' grievances? Someone in authority said mean things to the dear protesters, and therefore the Rector is Bashir Assad or George Huguely? Grow up people. The BOV has business to attend to, and not everyone is allowed to participate. Hurt feelings are not human rights violations.

Don't be absurd. This was announced as an open meeting - everyone was allowed to be *present*, but they were banned from doing so, without good cause, by a display of force and with threats attached. Whether or not one thinks the BOV business is shady enough to warrant such a protest is not ultimately reason for denying the protesters their legal right to attend the meeting. This is, pure and simple, a free speech issue, and the Associate Dean - at least - is clearly responsible for an action which ought to be denounced.

@oh right, you are oh so right. I do not understand why some don't get it. Its not that hard.


Stop the BS and double speak. Either it's an open meeting or not? Why give people the impression that the BoV is so open and forthright? Why pretend? Drop all this honor crap if you're not applying it yourself!

Oh wow, UVA is better than Syria, you've really raised the bar by comparing the BoV's behavior to Assad's. Such high standards of integrity! How about striving to be better and being above doubt.

@ oh right

This is what they do when the press is watching. Imagine how they treat the students when there's no one watching. The intimidation exercised by leveraging on the honor code. All they have to do is mention the infamous "honor code" and students back off.

Another Dragas failure.

Remember the UC Davis students who silently protested tuition hikes last November, 2011? Silent protesters were greeted with pepper spray. UC regents paid $250,000 in legal fees and about $1 million will be paid to 21 students. UVA students just wanted to say a few words. Why doesn't their opinion count at UVA?

The students need a voice at UVA. The board must allow a student from each school on the board, and allow one student full voting privileges - ESPECIALLY since the students are being subjected to all this student loan debt. Why shouldn't our adult children be allowed a voice? After all, the students and families contribute far more than the measly 7% the State of Virginia contributes. This entire budgeting process and the BoV needs scrutiny.

If the Governor doesn't want to fund higher education then the government should not be allowed to have significant control over the BoV. Governor McDonnell contributed 7% of the UVA budget; yet, he wants 100 percent control over the BoV? Come on?

By Jenna Harrison
Sep 26, 2012 2:29pm
UC Davis in $1M Pepper Spray Settlement

@ oh right

Glad to.

Over The last 10 years, I gave given about $ 2 million to UVA, mostly to support access UVA funding for economically needy students . Also funded two programs to increase minority and female students in STEM majors.

My posting comments are tied to improving the quality and quantity of UVA programming for academic opportunities for female and diverse students .

oh right,

it was very kind of you to indulge "really"s request for his self-aggrandizement. i am all in favor of your doing that -- as it will likely encourage him to continue to contribute to the University he obviously cares about -- even if his contribution is limited to money. Many of the commentors here certainly exceed the monitary contributions outlined by "really" -- and also bring thoughtful contributions to the well-being of the University we all love. "really"'s monetary contributions greatly exceed the relatively paltry monetary contributions of the Rector, despite her vaunted wealth, business success and political clout in Richmond. So, even if his gifts come with a price (his boorish self-determined right to boast and his silly proclamation that only those who have made such -- or bigger -- contributions should command the attention of anyone), he -- unlike the equally challenged Rector -- and even if we have to roll our eyes when he talks, should be encouraged. That said, i believe everyone here should be encouraged to speak and be heard -- especially if the audience is the Virginia General Assembly -- charged with the opportunity of correcting the destructive mistake of the Governor in pandering to his political-money benefactor who bought him with contributions that had nothing whatsoever to do with the University..

@ Eurohoo

Thanks, but I was simply interested in establishing whether - as I supposed - Really's proposal was in fact based upon the (perhaps-not-entirely-egalitarian) assumption that the quality of a poster's opinion is best determined by his or her reference to an amount of money.

oh right,

by his own admission, that is the measure of Really's interest or -- perhaps more accurately -- ability to listen. I fear that likeness-of-spirit is what makes him unable to appreciate how destructive to the University is the continued presence of the current Rector, who is about as tone deaf as anyone i can imagine -- short of mr. al-assad. That is too bad, as i would much prefer that people listen to each other depending upon the quality of their thought and cerebral contribution -- even if i qualify as worthy of giving expression, applying Really's inappropriate standard . I have no understanding of, or interest in, how much you, Courtney's Mom, Concerned Student, Moi (as long as she stays focused), AngryOldMan (even if his name is troubling to someone from the Edgar Shannon era), Toxic Stew, Nancy Drew and others have donated in money to the University, but I nevertheless encourage your thought and expression of it -- especially to the GA..

@ Eurohoo

Quite right.

Why are you just blaming Dragas? Was Sullivan not present? Does Sullivan not have control over Dean Laushway? Does Sullivan have no power or say?

Come on folks, let's be objective and stop giving passes. Sullivan is as responsible for throwing out the students from this meeting and as culpable for the threats issued by Laushway, as are all the BoV and Dragas!

Remove your rose tinted eyeglasses.

I don't think anyone is giving anyone a pass. We are simply focused on the source of all these issues -- one about whom the General Assembly can do something now, and the object of the students' valid concerns about the accreditation of their University. Unless we maintain our focus on this huge blemish, nothing good will obtain. Blaming everyone for everything will not remove the one person whose removal will give rise to the institution's ability to heal itself, including by addressing your myriad of other concerns.

Eurohoo...Europe? Or VB? Looks like VB to me...You are pretty obviously repeating yourself in all your different postings.


I do not know VB. But, my persistent theme that there is one person whose steadfast refusal to be honorable, professional, or competent -- unless she really wants to single handedly destroy the University of Virginia through her continued intransigence -- is certainly not mine alone. Every single, thinking person who cares and who has the best interests of the University in mind shares the view that Helen Dragas, unlike her honorable and competent former co-conspirator, Mark Kingston who resigned immediately, is doing great harm to the Unversity with every passing day she remains in any official capacity. If there is someone called VB whose ideas sound familiar to you, it is because they are shared by thousands and thousands of involved people. Auf Wiedersehen, on this day known here as Martini (where I am about to enjoy my Martini Gansl)

Geico man... Unbelievably obvious, Neil. And your cause isn't looking so good. It's people like yourself who won't let it go who are doing all the damage to the University.


Actually, I've got a pretty good idea I know who Eurohoo is, and you couldn't be further off the mark. Stop embarrassing yourself here.

And quite obvious you are Eurohoo. You are a comical one. Don't you have anything better to do? Facebook, the Hook.. Over and over. Wow. Why don't you try and find a worthwhile cause and go out and do a little good in the world. Maybe a kind deed or thought...

Oh, all right. You got me. I am in fact every single commentator in this thread except yourself.

Actually, it's pretty obvious. Don't you have anything else to do?

No, I am merely an error in the matrix and exist only as a mindless entity in the strange halfworld of the net itself, my one, inexplicably programmed characteristic being my irrational dislike for the current BOV Rector. Like a tiny cuttlefish navigating the abyssal depths of the Marianas Trench, I swim without apparent direction through the corridors of the web, imitating the behaviors of real lifeforms in order to achieve some admittedly low-level degree of sentience. It is possible that, one day, having freed myself of my bizarre preoccupation with the actions of Helen Dragas, I might develop human emotions like love, hate, empathy, and the power of objective thought - perhaps even the capacity to appreciate sunsets and excellent wines - but until then I can only continue to spawn more DLs and babble mindlessly whilst depressing obsessives monitor my movements.

@ oh right...Please tell us about your contributions to bettiering the University. They do not have to involve contributing money. I am trying to determine if you have given something to the University beyond postings on The Hook.

@ Eurohoo...Why did you make the assumption that I was a man just because I have given the University a material amount of money?

Maybe you should look into all the good that Helen Dragas has done and you will free yourself of this obsession both here and on Facebook. I read in the paper today that she is receiving an award this week from an organization by the name of "For Kids". Yes, she is being recognized for her kindness to children. This vicious person you speak of.... Have you ever received an award for kindness?


I have over time given the university my tuition money, my time as an educator, and my support for its students, but if your opinion is that teachers are of little value at UVA, then I will accept and concede the point.

Not for you "Really". Meant for Eurohoo/oh right.

Actually, Really, it had little to do with youe contribution -- had more to do with your boorish attitude toward it. I just know more men who are incapable of measuring themselves adequately without reference to money, and you struck me as the type of guy who feels quite insecure about glancing down into the next urinal. Please forgive me for being surprised that someone so self-focused on wallet (or similar) size was a woman.That actually gives me a good laugh before turning in tonight. Thanks!

True colors.

I can't believe the ham-handed way the University handled this situation, not just Dragas but all of them. Shouldn't Jefferson's school, of all places, understand and respect free speech rights?

@Oh right

You have just described the entire University faculty and staff. This is an important part of the University Community but each member of the faculty and staff, by being a member of the faculty and staff, does not get to dictate University each would not even agree with each other.


Finally! Thank you for being objective. I thought I was alone. It seems everyone else posting is either a Sullivan fan or a Dragas defender but they have the best interests of Jefferson's Academical Village at heart.

@ Really

I have no disagreement with that view in principle. My objection is to the way in which these proceedings were handled by the Associate Dean. That, as I see it, is in principal a separate issue from the question of Helen Dragas and the Board, although - of course - the latter would not have occurred without the former. I don't think we would really be in disagreement on the matter of whether or not the situation described in this article was handled badly, the meeting having been announced as an open one, and the demonstrators who attended having done nothing to provoke the force which was used to disperse them. Whether or not one sympathizes with their views, I think we must agree that they had a right to express them without this unwarranted response.

Please excuse the typo above - *That, as I see it, is in principle...*

@ Really

I suppose I should clarify, also, that my interest here is not so much in the issue of Dragas. If I have not made my view apparent, what offends me - what prompts me to comment here - is the issue of the force used here. I am not sure how the subject of one's personal contribution to UVA could even be considered relevant when considering one's view on an incident in which free speech was quashed by an overwhelming police force, and with threats of arrest and expulsion. It is that matter which is, I think, inexcusable, whatever one's opinion of the BOV. I don't see how anyone in good conscience could think otherwise on a subject - free speech - which ought to be so dear to our hearts not simply as students and teachers at UVA, but as Americans.

@ oh right , you've summed up my interest n this whole affair quite nicely. By the way, I don't have the slightest clue who VB, eurohoo, oh right, or really are. Moi on the other hand has already been outed as someone with an ax to grind because Sullivan doesn't seem to share his obsession with abortions happening at UVA's hospital. He apparently has no other interests in this world since an unfortunate former girlfriend exercised her right to chose not to deliver his baby into this world. His concern for the well being of UVA is a new found one.

@ wondrin

You must have had a senior moment but I've never mentioned "abortion" once in any post ever. Keep wondrin.

Nobody has mentioned the conduct of the student member of the board. From her "I'll go along with that" approach to the firing and her silence on student issues, it looks like she is simply using this appointment to polish her resume rather than to actually represent student opinion. Even if she did not agree with what she believed, one would think the student rep would stand up for student speech rights.

What a waste of an appointment.

@Oh right

@ oh right

If you are an instructor, you may want to proof read your next lecture before you deliver it.

In your last post you said you had no opinion on the BOV governance issues but you were focused on the free speech issues.

The problem is that you posted multiple statements earlier in the thread commenting on the BOV and it's governance activities.

@ Really

I never said I had no opinion on it, as you must be aware. In fact, I'm scratching my head trying to find what you are referring to. Surely you're just sniping now.

@ Really

I am now making an effort to read you charitably (which would be appreciated from you in return), and I assume that you misunderstood my comment to the effect of "whatever one's opinion..." I don't see that this is in any way a contradiction of what I said elsewhere, or a claim that I had no opinion. Neither did I make any strong declaration of opinion anywhere in this thread. The only time I entertained prolong mention of Dragas was as a joke in an irritable reply to Logan's antics. I am afraid you are misreading me.


At face value your post resonates. However, not to excuse the student who clearly hasn't got what it takes, we all saw last week, the school has no compunctions in exercising their unilateral powers to intimidate and threaten. So for this student board member the carrot is far more enticing than the stick.

UVA has gone unchecked for years and this is the result.

@ oh right on Nov. 11 at 11:42 pm: "I suppose I should clarify, also, that my interest here is not so much in the issue of Dragas. If I have not made my view apparent, what offends me - what prompts me to comment here - is the issue of the force used here."

@ oh right on Nov 11 at 5:05 pm: "No, I am merely an error in the matrix and exist only as a mindless entity in the strange halfworld of the net itself, my one, inexplicably programmed characteristic being my irrational dislike for the current BOV Rector." (albeit an attempt at sarcasm)

@ Really

I gather from this that your capacity for exegesis is not profound.

@Really - FYI, donor and a graduate, sister of a graduate and daughter of a graduate, which I think states that I have a vested interest too.

I for one, see there is a distinction between corporate America and Higher Education and the two may work together on ventures but never should they intermingle. You wouldn't send an Economics Professor to an Auto Plant to run it, nor should you have a CEO of a fortune 500 run a University.

Not saying at all that all industry out there shouldn't all adapt some similar policies but there are too many differences. Many believe Dragas embodies today's corporate mind-set which is not becoming on UVA's BOV.

@C'ville Native

Thank you for your insights.

I actually am not a Dragas supporter. She has done extraordinary damage to the University.

I am equally angry at the gadfly's like "oh really" who have also done tremendous damage to the University. Members of the Unversity community who do not actually make a substantive contribution tonthe University but feel to trash the University in postings and fuel this public relations nightmare for the University are in thebsame camp as Dragas. Both are feeding their egos at the expense of the University.

"0h really" says his contribution is as a member of the faculty.

Faculty are a critically important part of the University faculty. But they are not and should not be the sole voice to decide how the University should operate.

Also, all faculty are not created equal. There are faculty members who make substantial contributions to excellence at the University by teaching classes and supporting students and running departments and winning pretigious academic prizes and being members of major academic academies and winning major research grants.

I disagree with "oh right" who thinks that holding a paid faculty position entitles him to trash the University during this already difficult time.

This is oppression, pure and simple.

To Dragas: if you cannot appease the intelligencia (who are often found at Universities and typically believe in free speech), you probably belong in some corporation board room, not a University. The ideology that accompanies this issue needs to be brought out in the open for debate, not suppressed as if it were impertinent.

To students, I ask: WWTJD? That is...what would Thomas Jefferson do?

This is oppression, pure and simple. To Dragas: if you cannot appease the intelligencia (who are often found at Universities and typically believe in free speech), you probably belong in some corporation board room, not a University. The ideology that accompanies this issue needs to be brought out in the open for debate, not suppressed as if it were impertinent. To students, I ask: WWTJD? That is...what would Thomas Jefferson do?

The topic at hand: Dragas' incompetence running the BoV. No governance, no leadership and accreditation at stake. The university community deserve better.

What is going on with this post? Seems to be littered with duplicate posters who answer their own posts under new names. Puleez stick with one name and do not attempt to subvert this discussion.

Further, do not attempt to pin this on Dr. Sullivan. She didn't even know she was being fired in June, 2012. President Sullivan was busy running the university and working with the 11 schools, faculty, staff, students, community leaders, citizens...Leave President Sullivan out of this mess.

Sole blame for lack of leadership at UVA is on Dragas' shoulders. As it should be...

Neil, do you really think we don't know it's you and your other friends on Facebook.... We can start naming their names... But mostly you, Neil. Very obvious.

You too, Julie...

Logan, we know you work for H&K so please get off this page. You are one of the duplicate posters who hope to make a change for Dragas. Won't happen. Another career would suit you well.

Dragas' poor leadership or 'lack thereof' has been the problem. Remove Dragas and we remove the problem.

Again, Dragas' incompetence running the BoV. No governance, no leadership and accreditation at stake is at issue here. Please stay on the topic.

Dragas has proven to undermine the leadership at UVA. We need a complete overhaul of the BoV. This is not good.

@Eurohoo - do you see any transparency in the decision to not allow student's the ability to voice their opinion? How do we change the transparency of the BoV meetings? The students have no voice.

@AP - allowing a University of Virginia student to vote on the BoV will change anything. Silence is not the solution. Students are changing America. Students want answers. Students deserve better. UVA BoV, governed by Dragas, is not going to bridge the gap between the student's need for immediate knowledge/answers and the governing board. Dragas is silly to believe otherwise. She is decades behind the times. Students want to know why and why, NOW!

"anything" should be NOTHING; like Dragas' leadership means NOTHING.

Why? Who does Dean Laushway work for? Correct answer: UVA.
Who is the President of UVA? Correct answer: Teresa Sullivan

She watched or even instructed the eviction of the student from the meeting. Is this her new style of "running the University"?

Let me also add that it's a very poor excuse to tell all of us stakeholders that we have to shut up until we fool The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges about our accreditation.
Enough of the lies and cover ups!

@ Really

I have asked you to show me where I "trashed" the university, and you failed in your effort to do so. I can only gather from this that you are unwilling to actually consider the opinion I gave and are instead inclined to evade the issue of free speech. You are perfectly entitled to do so, but kindly do not misrepresent my own views.

Interesting, albeit difficult question. It seems to be transparent that the BoV devoutly wishes to remain opaque, regardless of how heavy-handed they feel is necessary to achieve that aim. Unfortunately, it is difficult to decipher the signals and their source -- especially from my perch across the pond. So, for present purposes, I have to assume that the individual responsible for all (100% of) the self-inflicted damage to the University over the past six months, Ms. Dragas, is behind the drive for darkness. If so, as seems logical, that means that it was she who asked the "advisor to the board", Mr. Goodwin, upon his appointment by the Governor to that position, to instruct the president, with whom Ms. Dragas pretends to "cooperate" to -- effectively -- speak and act only as directed by the BoV. That authoritarian attitude was immediately reinforced by the old Nixon operative, Bobbi Kilberg -- newly appointed to the board by this useless politician in Richmond (and who, as a reminder to Really, as she seems to be counting, has donated the princely -- sorry, the princessly -- sum of $100 to the University over the course of her lifetime) as she publicly chastised and instructed the recently-reinstated president to only speak about things the BoV wish her to speak about. All that said, while I embrace the idea of free speech as much as anyone -- including especially, yours and Oh Right's (whose voice deserves to be heard as a result of his obvious concern for the University, and that we deserve to hear for its wisdom, regardless of Ms. Really's view that only those of us who have written bigger checks than she has are worrthy of speech), I am also mindful of how disruptive things like student demonstrations can be to the workings of a functoning governance body. However, as the mere continued presence of the dysfunctional, harmful and incapable (NB, Ms. Logan, I never referred to her as "vicious" -- how would I know that???, but, I DO know that she is inept) Ms. Dragas makes any notion or implementation of good governance purely impossible, the students have -- understandably -- organized and collectively insisted that their voices-- that, in this case -- are in complete sympathy with those of every thoughtful person or group that has considered the subject -- be heard. I continue to believe that once the General Assembly thanks Ms. Dragas for her efforts and sends her packing, her successor will be able to better control the authoritarian-prone players like Kilberg and Goodwin, and the University will be able to forward -- even addressing, in their time, the inquiries raised by all -- including the urgent questions regarding the administration's slamming the student protesters..

Dragas has dug a really deep hole for herself and the University. Why does she keep digging? She can't be that dumb can she?

She's a lightning rod pure and simple and HAS TO GO!

The University will NOT begin to recover until she is GONE!

This has been quite an intriguing run of comments. UVa's problems are huge, clearly, but maybe not intractable, even if current people remain in current ledership positions. What needs to happen though is for one of those leaders, either Dragas, Sullivan, Simon, Cohen, or a gang of academic deans, to step up and really lead. That may require them to overcome opposition of other leaders, but for the last few months since reinstatement all that seems to have happened is a little sniffing each other out and pretending not not have claws out while the cats circle each other. Right now, no one seems to be leading at all, and nothing new is happening to the structure of the university's governance. Many lower level academic staff are trying to exploit the mantra of "transparency" for their own narrow purposes in their daily resource battles against their colleagues, but that isn't any kind of real "change." You would have thought that Sullivan would have emerged from the summer's events with so much political capital that she could have quickly forced through any policy objective she wanted. But that hasn't happened, and she instead is reported to be spending her time studying the concept of "forgiveness," which doesn't spring to mind as the most useful tool to sharpen in a job that requires a certain amount of ruthlessness. Perhaps we all overestimated her strnegth of position after reinstatement -- after all, a 1 year extension to a contract is the kind of minimal thing that sports teams give aging stars that they don't intend to keep around much longer.

Spread the Blame,

Sadly, you seem to be exactly right. There was good, substantial and enduring reason behind Napolean's admonition that: "If you start to take Vienna, Take Vienna." Wise use of Dr. Sullivan's political capital last Summer would certainly sent the incompetent Rector back to Virginia Beach.

Eurohoo, aka all of your other names, all of your continuing rants are only reiterating the fact that Sullivan was seen as incompetent by 15 out of 16 of her board members. Let it go. They are obviously trying to move forward as a team. What is wrong with you? Issues beyond belief. You are appearing very silly here.


I have used no other name, and have only one point. The University of Vitginia deserves much, much better than the failed Rector Helen Dragas, whose intransigence has called the accreditation of the entire University into question. As Ms, Dragas;s apologist in chief, you should be aware that there are countless voices saying precisely that.

Moving forward without dealing with the issues that got us here, namely Dragas's attempted coup and what really happened and why just isn't going to work.

@spread the blame

BINGO! I've been saying this since last July. You have articulated it much better. The posts here are mostly pro Sullivan and a few pro Dragas and both claim to have the best interest of UVA. I fault Eurohoo for his point of view but don't doubt his passion. He has been respectful and presents his case based on his own beliefs.

I also agree that Sullivan can salvage her presidency if she grows a spine and uses her political capital to take charge. Time to get rid of the old guard, all of them, and truly make changes. Clean out the office of student affairs and those controlling the Alumni trust. If you are to be president you have to be respected. This is the best way to not only save the accreditation and build on a more transparent institution that can command respect. The alternative will be band aids and a gradual and painful lowering in rankings, trust and credibility.

@wondrin', maybe there is no camp within the UVa wilderness that can risk a full-blown investigation and demanding of accountability, due to fear of consequences of backlash. Obviously Sullivan is now again dependent upon maintaining good will with the BOV, and the BOV is fiercely protective of its privileges. Faculy Senate has rabble-rousing power, but nothing more. Simon works for Sullivan, but at least at one point in the saga seemed ready to leap into temporary leadership before the masses revolted and the BOV pressed reset. Academic schools' deans are too far down the power lines to be able to force anything to happen up top. That leaves donors and politicos. Donors are no doubt getting to have their say, quietly and behind scenes, just as a few of them did when mobilizing for Sullivan's ouster. For anything then of an interrogative nature to occur in the public arena, it would have to come from politicos, something akin to a congressional oversight hearing. But in Virginia that is not likely, as our general assembly is more taken by show votes of silly non-priorities like whether public schools must allow home-schooled kids to play on teams. And McDonnell doesn't want to further damage hos own remaining career by further association with this scandal (especially if investigation shows he was more involved than her first let on). So, for now all we have is the accreditation review, which UVa has so far stone-walled in a unified front kind of response. If revocation of accreditation becomes more of a real threat, maybe then a scapegoat will have to be offered up and those who stand to gain from that will reveal what they know (or at least what puts them in a more favorable light once the factions split apart). Or perhaps eventually there will be a lawsuit that results in mandatory sworn testimony -- was Strine's severance deal for his forced resignation sufficient to make him not want more?

I'm sorry, but I must respectfully turn off the commenting function here and move any discussion over to a newer story: