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

After a student protest of its Board of Visitors was quashed last week, people across America are wondering what the heck is wrong with the University of Virginia.

All summer, UVA Rector Helen Dragas has been the black hat, the person accused of basing decisions on corporate buzzwords like "strategic dynamism," feeling panicked by news articles about online education, and even of violating the hallowed Honor Code when she pulled the trigger on a popular president. Now, it's President Teresa Sullivan's team enforcing what appears to be a premature clampdown.

I got a lot of mileage– or a least a hundred Facebook "likes" – out of the photo I snapped of the hand-written note I passed to Dragas, in the basement-level board meeting, shortly after I saw dozens of students intimidated out of the entrance of the Harrison Institute.

"Dear Rector," I wrote, "I just saw over 20 students, peaceably assembled, warned of possible arrest and/or 'termination from the university.' Why won't you acknowledge their wish to speak? Do you support this treatment?"

She wrote me back to say that, unaware of what had happened upstairs, she was referring my question to the president and the chief operating officer. So, during a meeting break, I queried both of those individuals– Teresa Sullivan and her new chief operating officer, Patrick Hogan. Each said they were too busy to talk, and follow-up phone calls were met with silence.

This is an odd shift in the narrative.

On November 8, members of the Sullivan administration, including V-P for Student Affairs Patricia Lampkin and her top deputy, Aaron Laushway, seemed to be going out of their way to steer students away from speaking.

"We were reminded as we went in that we weren't allowed to speak," said Dannah Dennis. "And that led us to believe," added Brianne Pitts, "that if we spoke we would be evicted from the room."

The warnings intensified upstairs in the entry hall where Laushway began wielding the University's so-called critical incident management plan, which gives administrators a statement to read to disperse students "in the event that a demonstration blocks access to University facilities or otherwise interferes with the normal operation of the University."

Isn't protest normal? John Whitehead thinks so.

"This is a University where free speech is supposed to flow," says the civil rights lawyer. "The University is supposed to be for the students."

In a next-day email, the University Police Department, which had 18 armed officers on the scene, took responsibility for initiating the ouster due to "a potential safety and fire hazard." But I witnessed neither blockage nor hazard. Instead, I saw protesters arrayed on either side of the entrance with passersby coming in and out of the building unmolested.

"I have offered you seven seats," said Laushway. The students said they'd be willing to stand, just as I and at least two photographers had done earlier in the meeting.

Next thing you know, Laushway, who declined to return a follow-up phone call, had– with the help of the Police– ordered them all out of the building.

"Eighteen cops," exclaims Whitehead. "That's for riots."

Here's why people who value the Constitutional concepts of free assembly and free speech are upset: the students weren't actually blocking the building– intentionally or otherwise. Moreover, at the time of the force-out, unless holding a placard counts, they weren't even protesting when Dean Laushway began reading them the riot act.

Their only protest was having the temerity to ask the dean what the consequences would be if they didn't leave. (I asked him the same thing.)

These are the same students, one of whom announced by bullhorn when their march began outside the steps of the Rotunda that they had no interest in getting arrested or jeopardizing their college careers. They just wanted a dialogue with the Board, and they were willing to do that by holding up their signs, as a handful did earlier in the board meeting.

"The University is supposed to foster a free flow of ideas," says Whitehead. "It's not there for the president, the professors, or the board. It's for the students."

Whitehead says he'd be happy to take the case of any student intimidated out of the Harrison Institute. And he said something else.

"That's the thing about students today– they're so nice," says Whitehead. "In the '60s, when I was in college, students were more vocal."

He's on to something, which leads to another strange part of this episode: the lack of any general student response.

As the protesters marched from the Rotunda to the Harrison Institute shortly after noon, I saw just a single show of support coming from the general student population.

"Yeah, solidarity!" yelled Amelie D'Urso as she stood alongside McCormick Road.

D'Urso was the exception. The hundred or so other students– perhaps diligently focused on their classes or just not clear what the fuss is all about because the brief presidential ousting happened on their summer break– simply stepped out of the brick walkway and made room for the protesters.

Alumni seem to care more deeply. Two of them, Jessica Arnold and Sarah Curtis-Fawley, class of 1999, approached the group along University Avenue to register their support.

Earlier this year, I filed a Freedom of Information Act request for emails from alums mentioning the possible resignation of Rector Dragas. There were too many to count and so many that the beleaguered secretary to the Board, Susan Harris, felt compelled to apologize when forwarding them to the Board.

"If there is any concern that I am sending only messages supportive of President Sullivan," she wrote her then still-clueless board on June 17, "I assure you I have sent to you all of the messages I have received supporting the Board's position."

On Friday, November 9, the day after the protest, the board reconvened. Over on the Reform the UVA BOV Facebook page, a Virginia Beach alum wondered why there weren't a thousand students out there protesting what had happened and demanding change.

Some sort of change happened anyway. The board approved a formal personnel review process for its president, agreed to put a non-voting faculty member on each board committee that doesn't already have one, and voted that Friday that never again could a president's contract be modified or a resignation accepted without a full meeting of the board. Just a few minutes later, this particular president, Teresa Sullivan, was given a one-year extension of her contract that carries her term out to 2016.

I recently learned that in September, Sullivan met with Dragas in the office of Governor Bob McDonnell. Other than a confirmation from the governor's office that the meeting occurred, I don't know anything– certainly not what was discussed. Maybe it was just a friendly forum to keep working for the betterment of UVA. The more nefarious suggestion is that the education-reforming politician tried to broker a secret deal. Let's hope not; but with all lips sealed, people will speculate.

It seems that the UVA board learned some good lessons about transparency and constructive leadership over the summer. Let's hope that Sullivan's team learns them, too.
Hawes Spencer is the editor of the Hook.


Note: the printed version of this story wrongly had "November 9" in the caption; the information is correct in the above caption, that the students approached the Harrison Institute on November 8.

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


I imagine that the 18 officers were called up in anticipation of a larger turnout, and while the meeting is "open," it is not a public forum or town hall meeting. I noticed the students were permitted to hold signs in the Rotunda the preceding day, and while I don't know why the students were not admitted to the auditorium (given a chance to be disruptive before being tossed, so to speak) this is hardly a case of trampled free speech, here. Signs held, letters handed off, plenty of media attention...they "spoke."

@ Hoo Cares

You are so transparent!

Just an FYI - There is always a representative from the Dean of Students office on duty during BOV meetings and present outside the meeting room. Their job is to prevent students from disrupting the meetings. They appear to interpret the meaning of "disruption" quite liberally. Apparently, the BOV has about as much interest in hearing the concerns of its "rabble-rousing" students as it has in hearing from its faculty, staff, or alumni. Bubbles must not be disturbed lest they pop.

@the Hook: Dragas is what is wrong with the University of Virginia. When Dragas resigns, the new leadership will have credibility. As of today, NOT.

The Hook reporting is right on. There is complete lack of leadership at UVA with Dragas at the helm. "After a student protest of its Board of Visitors was quashed last week, people across America are wondering what the heck is wrong with the University of Virginia."

I cannot believe the General Assembly would vote to keep Dragas as a "BoV". She has discredited herself. She has thrown the U into questionable accreditation - at best. And, Dragas has proven to draw a line between the UVA campus and the BoV. What good is any of this? NONE! Unless our goal is instability. Dragas has given the UVA instability.

Dragas must move on!

Thank you Hook for including those of us "across the nation". What is Dragas thinking - the BoV @ UVA thinking? -- that we will write a blank, over-sized check to UVA for our child's higher education? Really? Dragas is not who I want my daughter to have as Rector. Dragas is not a role model for young women.

We will not be funding our daughter's higher ed degree at UVA. Got it Dragas? Zip from California. There are many more friends who agree with our situation.

Good luck with Dragas. We are done following and contributing our position. No one hears us so we will pay for CC's NYU higher education.

Happy with that outcome Dragas? Bye UVA, Courtney's 'Cash Paying' Folks from California........................done.

HD the gift that keeps on giving.

Just like a festering sore on UVA's backside. How long before gangrene sets in? Guess that will be when SACS does something about UVA's accreditation. Probation with very specific conditions (get rid of HD) would be nice. Otherwise the BOV will never "get it."

Our state reps needs to step up first thing in the upcoming legislative session and rid UVA of this disease if SACS doesn't get the job done.

Certainly Dragas committed grave errors in the attempted summer ouster, and now she is paying the price for it, not least in the form of having to swallow the fact that Sullivan's getting a 1-year extension is entirely due to Dragas' failure. But if you read Hawes' new article carefully, you will see that she cannot be blamed for this latest episode (that was quite a deft move passing the buck of Hawes' note along to Sullivan and crew, by the way). Instead, the mistreatment of student would-be attendees is solely due to those UVa officials who were charged with managing entrance to the meeting. None of those people work directly for the BOV. There seems to be greater community tolerance of down-ticket UVa administration abuse, and maybe Hawes is on to something about this place in general -- during the summer, after all, it was not really the student body that rose up in rebellion against the BOV's tricking our highly paid president into agreeing to resign and take on a still very highly paid position in the professorial rank and file. It is really doubtful that the students, as a general body, care about such stratospheric battles among management, since the outcome doesn't really affect their daily lives. And, in comparison to other larger and more urban major universities', UVa's student body is more affluent, comfortable, and politically disinterested. Instead, back in June, it was the faculty who came to the ousted president's rescue, and who made up, in their LL Beanish way, the huddled masses demanding "transparency" and fuming about the BOV's refusal to conduct non-required consultation with the general faculty or its purely advisory senate. That mass was quite quick to leap upon the bandwagon of a top level manager that they don't really know all that well, and that hasn't so far done a great deal to address concerns that they had already tried (to no avail) to go over her head on, such as the salary freeze. Sullivan never even had to address the faculty directly or state what her own views were in response to Dragas' various non-explanations, yet she still provoked standing ovations at every event at which she silently appeared. Amazing. We are so quick to identify heroes and villains. And now it may dawn on us that this ain't no western movie matinee, and all of the hats worn by UVa's true power brokers, like the predominant hair color of the summer protesters, is gray.

Wow. Very thought provoking and finally, fair. Hold on to your hat...

If you venture outside Charlottesville or the spheres of U.Va. influence, you'll hear that most people don't believe that anyone is still talking about these events. Paraphrasing Twain, rumors of the death of U.Va. are greatly exaggerated. Most discussion since June has been binary: true/false, for/against, Dragas/Sullivan, us/them, rich/not rich, Republican/Democrat. This is unfortunate because the dynamics are too complex to fall into simplistic allegiances. It sounds like Mr. Spencer is beginning to grasp that there are a lot of independently moving parts. Those who beckoned for Transparency, Accountability, Reform should be pleased by the numerous changes emanating from the President's administration and the BOV. There were never grounds for the U to lose its accreditation, but these changes fortify the governance going forward, so those questions are put to bed. "Move along folks, nothing to see here" as the work of the U chugs along.

@Hoo Cares, of course those outside the UVa sphere have moved beyond paying attention to our 15 minutes of fame: they don't work here, so aren't affected by the continuing leadership vacuum that hasn't been filled since the summer's events. But that vacuum certainly still is something to see, if you are directly affected by the U's operations. Ask around among the people who work at the place -- there has still not been any kind of adequate resolution to the problems the summer's events spotlighted. The BOV and the president may want an early beddybye time for the swirling questions, but most of us just aren't sleepy yet.

Do I recall correctly from the NBC29 report that most BOV members were caught by surprise by the motion to extend the President's contract?

Here it is --

" The vote was unanimous, but most board members were kept in the dark about the extension. "

The reported interference with student communication, from whatever the source, is unfortunate. However, the more important subject is whether Helen Dragas should continue. For intellectual, legal, and moral reasons she should not. If she does not voluntarily depart, the General Assembly should decline to confirm Robert McDonnell's nomination.

Perfect opportunity to be heard coming right up. Get in front of a national audience.

To the University community:

On Thursday night we have an opportunity to showcase U.Va. to a nationwide audience. The ESPN network is here to televise our ACC football game (the last home game for 2012) against the University of North Carolina. Game time is 7:30 p.m.
I encourage everyone to take advantage of this opportunity to show the best of U.Va. to a national audience. Let's welcome Cavalier fans and other visitors to Charlottesville and, of course, enjoy the game. Go 'Hoos!

Teresa A. Sullivan, President

@Laramie, I disagree that Dragas is the "more important" subject. She seems more like a sideshow, and just one piece of evidence of something larger that is wrong at UVa. If she goes, nothing is fixed besides her presence on the board. The upside to that is that it will make it clearer to all that failure to solve any problems following her departure will be someone else's fault, from the president on down. However, I do agree Dragas should go, for two of the reasons you mention -- intellectual and moral. Intellectually, she has been inadequate for a university that expects from its students and researching faculty better reasoning and substantiation in support of conclusions. Morally, she has been corrupt in using trickery and trumped up claims to fool a sitting president into submitting her resignation, and in subsequently trying to enlist faculty and students as her after-the-fact mouthpieces in defense of that action. But legally? She has broken no law, and, according to the official report of the university to its accreditor, the BOV followed all required internal process guidelines. Perhaps one of the more remarkable aspects of this sordid story is that what she and the BOV did in June was apparently fully lawful. But that doesn't make it right, and it doesn't support her remaining around.

to Spread the Blame:

Some press reports have maintained that board procedures, such as requiring a general meeting (vs. approaching individual members) for voting on the president were not followed.

You can't vote to ask someone to resign. And you can't vote to accept a resignation. Only vote is termination or to alter a contract and the BOV opted not to go that path. And Spread the Blame, you don't know what preceding context there was for asking certain individuals to communicate their support of the Board's action--there may have been solid footing for those requests stemming from prior conversations.

Article today in the Guardian is putting forth the question if this whole thing is the result of the climate change issue.

President Sullivan and the First Years get it.

To Spread the Blame- Hoo Cares speaks the truth. It is decorum to ask for a president's resignation in lieu of a full vote. I would think that Helen Dragas would not have been reappointed had she not been a truth teller. Forward thinking but no liar. And I don't think any of the Board was interested in "incremental change" that Sullivan spoke of. Now she is moving forward and it appears that the Board has rightfully rewarded her.

@Why (and The Guardian).

Thanks for that reading. Everyone should see it.

@hoo cares

You are clearly out of touch. The entire UVA community is still very troubled by the UVA Spring. It pops up every time UVA pulls off a shenanigan. Faculty and students are very disturbed by it and the double standards on full display by the BoV and Admin. The Dean of Students office and their goons have fostered an atmosphere of distrust with their thuggish behavior. The Student Council smells the deceitful behavior when the Deans cancel meetings and send replacements to avoid answering questions about their concerns and instead intimidate and threaten students. What is really ugly is that the nepotism and corruption in that office is at fever pitch!

As I write there is a revolution stirring in the community and only when heads roll, which I predict they will, and changes are made will the community be in a position to re-build. Very sad.

Very very interesting Guardian article. Thanks for posting it!

This whole fiasco is going to get very ugly at some point and delaying the ugly is going to make it even uglier in the end. It always does. The only possible hope of any sort for things to get better is for Dragas to leave. How can she be so blind to that reality?


Thank you for attachin the Guardian article. At a minimum, it puts to rest the ridiculous propaganda, likely paid for on behalf of Helen Dragas, written here by "Hoo Cares" (and supported by all of her other regular apologists, including Logan and Chris) that the world is not watching in disbelief that Ms. Dragas, is singlehandedly damaging the great institution by her very continued presence -- with absolutely no benefit to anyone.

Dean Groves recently gave a talk to 2cnd year students in which he raved that UVA was consistently ranked highly when it came to freedom of Speech. In the audience was Dean Laushway. What a joke. He also referred in that speech to how heinous anonymous comments on blogs such as there are. What he fails to recognize is that UVA administration creates a culture and climate of fear of retribution. They do it to faculty and they do it to students. The institution threatens all those who showed up to the protest with "termination.' UVA administration was the problem here, not Dragas.

This whole crisis tis summer was either just a little spat among elites or it meant that the University is a public university and should be run like one, including free speech rights for faculty and students. It is disappointing that the Faculty Senate did not speak out on the protestor issue. Why is the BOV allowed to violate open meeting norms by holding their meetings in such small venues as to deny public access? Why is it there is not period at the end of the meeting for public comment?

UVA is sometimes so hypocritical it is astounding. Is Sullivan going to treat protesting students the same way she was treated by the BOV? You can't have freedom of speech and assembly when you are threatened by administrators using the old "Fire Code" BS.

Hey, "WHY" -- was just about to post that same link. Excellent article, going into issues I previously knew not enough about (about the whole handling of the Environmental Chair -- financially backed by two guys involved in Sullivan's ouster, as revealed in part by the Hook -- which came to a head in the spring. The article certainly presents reasons to believe it likely that there is a connection. And remember -- Sullivan spent $600K of UVA money defending against Va's own AG's efforts to intrude into professor Mann's research. I also didn't realize that investigations as of accrediting associations are still ongoing -- perhaps that will prove to be for the better.

The link again is:

If Sullivan is such a great president, why hasn't she spoken up here about the incident last week involving the students? Where is she on this? You can't blame the BOV and Dragas for this one....

You can ask both the BOV and the Administration: Why are BOV meetings held in such a manner as to restrict public access.

You can ask the Faculty Senate do the support the students' free speech rights and what are they doing about last week?

Are we going back to business as usual?

You can also ask President (and any president who was in office) and her Administration and the BOV: Where is there the commitment to diversity and equity in the strategic planning process? Does the Strategic planning process acknowledger the culture of elitism and fear of retribution that surrounds the technical process of "stakeholder" input? If faculty and students were threatened with termination for showing up to a BOV public meeting, is there really free speech in the strategic planning input process? Is there really transparency with the administration. Authentic strategic outcomes rely on authentic stakeholder input.

We expect the same level of transparency that we were all fighting for during the summer to govern university processes internally going forward. Will the administration deliver? Will the stakeholders (faculty, staff, students, alums, etc.,) stick together and demand both BOV reform and internal UVA reform?

Logon, This is not a personality issue about President Sullivan. I think she is a pretty good President(and certainly much better than we would have gotten with Zeithaml or any other corporate type the BOV would have installed had they gotten away with their coup) but we need to see if she is committed to transparency and reform or is she doing the bidding of the BOV corporate overseers but more gently? I like the fac that she brought up asking the legislature for more funding for faculty salaries. That's a good sign.

The students and faculty need to make a big issue out of the protest from last week. Its a symptom of a greater disease.

There is no freedom of speech in UVA. Sullivan has been silent and absent for the last two years allowing the goons to run the asylum. Last June it was established as a fact that the BoV is corrupt. Why would anyone think all the goons in the Admin are any different?

This University is heading off it's own cliff and you are all hoping that Sullivan is going to save the day. I don't think so.

This now needs leadership from the Governor (fat chance of that) to overhaul the entire BoV by replacing them with stakeholders and a new Rector (all non-political) that will immediately command the respect of the community. A rector with an impeccable reputation.

Let them decide if Sullivan should stay etc.

Firing the lot -- BOV, president, dean of students, etc. -- would throw the place into paralyzed chaos. An enterprise as big as UVa doesn't run itself, and institutional knowledge of those in charge now is worth a lot and very expensive to lose.

Firing some, though, might be worth it, or might be premature.

I have agreed with others that Dragas should go, based solely on her mismanagement of the summer events (NOT, I stress, due to any agreement that her decision was wrong substantively). Her incompetence at management is too big a risk to continue to endure.

Firing Sullivan would depend upon what actual reasons the BOV had for ousting her in the first place. Those reasons have not been presented to us in any substantiated way, so it is impossible to agree or disagree with the generalized statements Dragas made back in June. So, for now, all we have regarding Sullivan's performance is the anecdotal stuff we see in press and blogs and from those in the know at UVa. By that same token, it is impossible to know whether she is doing and will continue to do a better or worse job than would have the briefly named interim president or anyone else the BOV was thinking of.

Firing the dean of students over one poor perfomance of logistic duties at a BOV meeting seems extreme. There would need to be far more evidence of more widespread malfeasance to take that action.

Ironically, one of the realizations emerging from the Penn State disaster is that university boards need to assert more control over university presidents and their staff, not less, to avoid fostering a culture of insular and unreviewable executive power that lets things happen just because "that's the way things go here."

The BOV could have done us all a great service if it had initially and fully articulated its rationale for ousting Sullivan, rather than try to hide behind the skirt of "it's a personnel matter so we can't talk." It still can.

Sullivan spent $600k defending Mann's research? If Mann was cleared by other entities for any wrong doing why did Sullivan have to defend him? I believe in global warming but I don't agree with spending University funds defending a professor who is long gone to another institution, when he clearly could have defended himself. What am I missing here? This gets from bad to worse. Did she do this without getting BoV approval (oxy moron there)?


No, according to the Guardian article on how this may all be tied to climate change science, UVA (not Sullivan, of course) had to spend roughly that much to fight the repeated litigation efforts by the AG to subpoena Mann's records while at UVA (don't recall right now whether he was still there at all during this or not) and related UVA info -- you remember those battles, I'm sure. It wasn't defending research or records of someone unrelated. It was defending UVA's right to have professorial autonomy from a right wing AG nut. UVA's professo work product = UVA's records, not Cucinelli's, I'm assuming the battle went. D'accord?

She didn't defend Mann's research. She defended UVa's right to NOT disclose a great deal of internal communications conducted by academic scientists in their pursuit of research. UVa itself in that lawsuit took no position on the issue of whether Mann was right or wrong in his scientific conclusions. Anyway, that Guardian article is intriguing, and posits a plausible connection, but for the connection to be true a major assumption would have be shown to be a fact (and the article concedes, at the end, that this is a question, more than a known truth) -- namely, that Sullivan supported the faculty who wanted to hire Mann back. That seems to be a highly dubious assumption, given that if she disagreed with Woo and Simon she was fully empowered to reach a different conclusion than what they recommended to her. Just like George W, Sully was "the decider," and every view below hers stated on whether to re-hire Mann was strictly advisory. So, given that she did NOT rehire him, and given that both Cuccinelli and McDonnell could be safely predicted to agree with not re-hiring him, it is far fetched to assert that the BOV's ouster of Sullivan was related to her action regarding Mann's potential re-hire. But perhaps Dragas and Kington were acting to punish exactly that decision. Imagine -- Helen Dragas, champion of fighting climate change?

"She defended UVa's right to NOT disclose a great deal of internal communications conducted by academic scientists in their pursuit of research." What a load of bulls##t! If the internal communications were above board it wouldn't have been worth $600k. When you don't have money you pick your battles. This was a TOTAL WASTE OF RESOURCES!!!!

Like now she's fighting to defend UVA's policy to cover up rapes. How much is this costing the U?

This is politics and NOT Education!

I'm no defender of Dragas either. Dragas and Kington are just on the other side of the aisle. It's all these backroom political games that will bring down this institution. How very sad that we are devoid of any intelligence and have allowed politics to take over. I can only imagine all the other waste of resources. It's not about education. It's about personal agendas and egos!

I have no problem with my contributions to the University going to pay counsel to defend academic freedom and the integrity of the University's research programs and keep their internal workings out of the hands of the kind of sleazy politicians in Richmond who, meanwhile, take campaign dollars from incompetents and appoint them Rector of the University-- and reappoint them even after their incompetence has embarrassed and caused great harm to the institution -- in exchange.


So if an institution, in order to maintain professional integrity (without which no decent academician will come to that institution) is in a position to have to hire lawyers because the state's own AG is trying to cut through that integrity (yes, personal research and communications are part of professional integrity), you say it's a waste of money and not a battle to pick!

Wow, either you are clueless as to the professional world or, though you keep repeating you are no defender of Dragas, you are protesting too much.

Let's get one thing straight. Unlike the last 3 posters I have never evoked politics. As far as I am concerned you folks on the left are as bad as as the right wing nuts. Academic Freedom? What does academic freedom have to do with politics? If someone can prove climate change with scientific accuracy then so be it, if not they should be able to defend their position with reasonable theories backed by the science. If someone wants to challenge the science let them. Isn't that what academic integrity should be about???????????

Spending $600k to defend so-called academic integrity is a beyond a farce.

"you are protesting too much."
Am I to read this as a veiled accusation to put me on the defense? Sorry but I'm not going to defend my record on the Dragas subject. It's been very plain and simple. cvillereader you are the one with the far left agenda which to any objective observer puts you in the same league as the AG. Sorry if the truth hurts!

It's time to stop the politics. It's ruined our country and destroying all our venerable institutions. You're just too seeped in it to see it! Universities are about education and students. In a recent 60 minutes interview with David McCullough he said the most shocking thing to him was how "history illiterate" college students are on top college campuses. Basically we have stopped teaching and are failing our society. Don't give me that drivel about academic integrity.

SHAME SHAME SHAME because you are all wrong on both sides of the political spectrum, uncivilized, intellectually corrupt and morally bankrupt. The end justifies the means no matter whom or what you hurt, whatever the expense.

Let's keep Sullivan and let's spend more on political causes and a skewed version of academic integrity all the while we can lie, cheat and suppress the students.

ps: Prof. Mann must be a model to follow given the reputation of the college he currently teaches in! Penn State! LOL

"In a recent 60 minutes interview with David McCullough he said the most shocking thing to him was how "history illiterate" college students are on top college campuses. Basically we have stopped teaching and are failing our society. Don't give me that drivel about academic integrity."

Tell that to our BOV who want to forget the history of the ouster and what it means politically and for education.

Politics produces Governors (like Kaine and McDonnell) with political agendas (like no tax hikes for corporations and no full funding of public education). They appoint ultra wealthy BOVs with political agendas (privatize public education, no support for corporate or wealthy tax hikes, etc). Those BOV members are egged on by right wing supported political agendas (aka Koch Borthers---> ACTA Anne Neal------>SCEVH 2011 BOV training Session by Ann Neal--->Dragas and Cabal actions that force political agendas on to education of students). They force their political agendas on faculty and students in backhanded, non-transparent ways. They try to micromanage public education in ways they have no business doing.

Political elections also allow for politically motivated AGs to undermine academic freedom by politically attacking academics who do not produce research findings that comport with their stance on global warming science.

Now that does not allow Presidents or administrators to suppress student and faculty free speech and free assembly rights. If Sullivan is doing that she should be called on the mat for it. She needs to speak out on that event and also proclaim what the free speech and assembly rights of faculty and students are. To say that it was ok in the summer because no one was around and it didn't interfere with university operations, is a cop out. To use the fire code to hide behind is a cop out.

This summer faculty, staff and students were allowed to exercise their free speech rights and assembly rights to support Sullivan over the BOV. One would hope Sullivan would see the irony of supressing those rights now that she has her job back. The issue still needs clarification. Sullivan should make a statement about FS rights on campus and how they will work going forward. Threatening faculty and students with dismissal is untenable given what happened this summer and given that UVA is a public university and supposedly is renowned for its freedom of speech.

it is possible that the BOV is wrong and the president is wrong. That is why the lesson from the summer is not to go back to sleep but to become continually active in the operations of the public university.

-the BOV be appointed inn ways that don't allow ultra rich to govern a public university
-full funding for the public university by the legislature
-faculty and staff voting membership on the BOV
-BOV meetings that are open to as many of the public as want to attend and that have a public comment section at the end.
-Full and clarified rights to free speech on Grounds and an end to threats of termination-The President should assure by proclamation and policy changes that no student or faculty exercising their free speech rights will be terminated

The people made things happen this summer. They can make it happen now.

What a beautifully stated entry, CitizenParty. Bravo and amen!

I get all confused but wasn't Kaine the one who appointed Dragas? I'm certainly not going to defend the AG, but nobody is admitting that spending $600k was a misappropriation of good money. Any academic integrity should be defended by the integrity of the research. Sorry, any other excuse tells me there was something to hide.

When the Governor was given this mandate many moons ago we didn't have this politically charged atmosphere we have today. I agree that most of the problem stems from this unchecked king making. I also agree it should not go to big donors.

I called for a change in the BoV make up months ago. I suggested that it be made up of representatives of the different stakeholders (students, faculty, parents, locals, distinguished citizens from VA, members of virginia society that are respected for having contributed to society) and be totally apolitical. I was mocked for being unrealistic and idealistic. Sorry but that is how colleges are run in the UK. The students and faculty might be from the left but the Admins are generally not political. Since this is a 'State" university surely we can follow a model that works.

@citizenparty - thanks for a well articulated post.

cvillereader, yours was a very poor exit. LOL

Moi -

You fuss that others are making everything political-- and look at you here again! ("Wasn't Dragas appointed by Kaine" -- who cares?) And you've expressed your (miscomprehending) outrage over the $600K many times now -- at least in 3 or 4 comments. Enough already.

@cvillereader - Don't let the facts get in the way of your narrative.

You are protesting too much! Touché.....

Seems everyone is again distracted by a side show. Of course the University had to defend itself when the Richmond politicians -- of either party (they are obviously all problematic -- just look at who appointed the unwise Rector, and who, unbelievably, re-appointed her -- politicians wearing different colored shirts, only bound together in their cause to take her money for their political careers -- regardless of the cost to anyone) sought to further their own political agendas and to ferret through academic research records to do so. But, getting back to the article, why does Ms. Dragas get a pass on all the current issues? Just see the Hook's previous essay on how she keeps bullying the President. Why would anyone think (especially when considering the gag order issued to the head of the faculty and to the President by a newly-minted political operative appointee and a governor appointed "advisor to the board") that all of the clamping down on expression doesn't originate from the Rector, herself? Surely that note=passing trick isn't viewed by anyone as a valid deflection of responsibilty. I have yet to see pursuasive evidence that the consistently incompetent and wrong-headed Helen Dragas isn't behind every single form of mischief and woe that is being foist on the University. Please talk to your GA representatives!

I was a big supporter of Sullivan, even attending two of the Lawn demos, but I am having second thoughts. I just don't see any leadership there. UVa needs a national figure, someone like former Secretary of Defense Bob Gates who can provide leadership and direction.

Also the payment by UVa to the Sullivan family seen totally out of line and inappropriate. She gets one huge salary for being President, another for being a tenured professor and her husband gets a huge law prof salary. what is the total take for these two? In an era when UVa grads are having a hard time getting a job it just seems excessive.

Sullivan has potential.She does need to lead. She needs to be a leader in her professional duties to defend academe and its role in our society. She can lead by pushing for full state funding, pushing back against corporate takeover of academe. She can lead by promoting facutly, tenure, shared governance, and student's free speech rights, lower tuition through greater state commitment, Access UVA, and diversity and inclusiveness. Diving into this new budget model that will only lead us to a more corporatized, market-based model for public higher ed., is not the way to lead. What people don't realize is that she was brought into push the new budget model and that model has many of the same assumptions behind it as the cabal who tried to throw her out to increase efficiency, competion, and accountability. The crisis of the summer is far from over, it only opened up a window into the undermining of public higher eduation that continues to be attacked by a thousand little paper cuts that adminstrators are implmenting on a day to day basis at UVA. Remember there were deans who agreed with Dragas and the direction of the BOV when they initially fired sSullivan. If you go over to UVA and sit in on faculty meetings at each of the schools you will hear Deans speaking the same lingo as Dragas and company: accountability, efficiencies, markets,competition, etc. Having Sullivan reinstated has not stopped that trend.

Having a bunch of ultra wealthy millionaires and Billionaires try to dictate the direction of public higher education is just slightly worse that administrators who are faculty who have sold out to this mentality. The whole enterprise and meaning of public education, academic freedom, democratic governance is still under attack, its just happening in bureacratic back rooms now. What kind of a leader will President Sullivan be is the question.

I usually agree with what CP has to say, but since UVa is a public institution that operates in some small part via spending of taxpayer money, I see nothing inherently wrong with introducing to public education, to the extent it already isn't there in the hallowed form of the tenure rat race in which "publish or perish" rules, a little more economic efficiency, accountability and competition. These things generally make people perform better, in the real world, and UVa does not exist primarily as a country club at which tenured professors are entitled to do things in the way that is most comfortable and non-threatening for them. Even "normal" government employees have to pass job performance reviews -- why shouldn't professors? Academic freedom does not entitle one to poor perfomance of one's assigned duties, and the notion of "peer review" that Sullivan is advocating for such reviews seems pretty safely immune from bullying by bosses who don't like what a given professor might be researching. And even without such peer review, the ultimate boss -- Sullivan -- can already block the hiring of a professor she sees as problemmatic for the school, as she apparently did in Mann's case in ref to the Guardian article a couple people posted above (don't assume for a minute that either her underlings Woo's or Simon's reluctance there whould have mattered one whit if Sullivan had wanted him, and don't assume that their expressions disfavoring him were not pre-instructed from above).

@George - I too thought she would be a breath of fresh air after Don Casteen and I agree with you on her/family remuneration as being excessive, which also puts her in the top 0.1%. Actually, I'm not against paying high numbers to attract competent proven people (it's a reality) but I think she has coasted and shown ZERO leadership. Hence she is overpaid. Lampkin runs her little fiefdom with her husband brown nosing the Alumni via the Jefferson Trust giving them way too much power and influence. Strine was doing the same running his domain. So what has she been doing? She can't even boast being a fund raiser!

i think the meeting between the governor, Dragas, and Sullivan was solely to quiet the issues. Our blow-dried governor has delusions of national office and continuous turmoil at UVa only impedes his grasping for power. Buying off Sullivan by offering her another year on the gravy train is a cheap fix - especially considering it's the taxpayers money.

If Sullivan has to stand by and say nothing while her supporters who saved her job are intimidated by the campus police, well, that's too bad.

@George - Agreed.

I prefer not to call people names based on looks, gender etc. but "blow-dried governor" is not really name calling. However, he earned his title as the "Ultrasound Governor" from his misplaced policies. LOL.


If you are not man/woman enough to identify yourself...stop with all of the personal attacks on individuals in the University community.

Take your mean spirited, tacky ways somewhere else. You are not contributing anything of substance and seem to have some sort of personal issues with individuals. It is rather strange how you are fixated on attacking individuals with non factual high school like name calling. I believe this is what is known as cyber bullying.

@Really - The truth hurts!!! Obviously you work for UVA and are offended by my attacks on your beloved colleagues.

Seriously, how can I bully the biggest bullies of them all? I'm not the one with power over students and victims. Bullying sexual assault victims is much worse than your false claim of cyber bullying. By the way cyber bullying is spreading false rumors. Mine are facts. The people I am attacking are responsible for doing some really bad things.

Have you identified yourself?


Stop bullying and personal attacks on members of the University community. If you are not man/woman enough to attack people in your own name, stop with the personal attacks.

Really@Really? Most of the material here involves personal attacks.

@hoo cares

The story and most post are about the extension of President Sullivan's contract and it's significance.

Moi's posts have been personal attacks on individual members of the University Community that have NOTHING to do with the subject of Sullivan's contract extension.

Moi's attacks are not factual and are abusive attacks that seem to be gratuitously mean spirited.

@Really - Grow up you big baby. It's OK for your buddies to bully but you can't take some facts that make them look bad! Who let that goon Laushway bully and intimidate students? That's a fact. Who does Laushway work for? My grandmother? The mean spirited and thuggish behavior is perpetrated by the Dean of Students office. An office that protects rapists and repeat rapists for years! Ooops sorry for slipping that fact. Who has run that office for years? oops, oops. The same nasty office that re-victimizes victims and crushes them into silence. The same office that hasn't expelled ANY rapists in over 10 years (oops another FACT), some are now saying they have never expelled one (not yet an established fact because the only people that can answers that are not addressing it). The same office that uses tainted investigation methods (another FACT). The same office that rigs hearings and covers up what they now call "sexual misconduct". Still waiting for the first perp to be expelled from the "community of trust"!?! This is a fact because we've not seen one rapist expelled. Sorry you cannot justify that!

All these facts make me the "mean-spirited" one? If so I PLEAD GUILTY!

Oh I forget, you can bash and demonize Dragas, even though the facts are against her, but that's OK because it fits your narrative. Hey, pot?

This post is about Sullivan's extension and I have as much right as you to opine myself. I think she has failed half the student body, the female half. It's just that no-one else on this board cares. They believe it's all about Dragas. Have we all forgotten about Yeardley Love already? Who could have prevented that? I forgot no-one in that wonderful loving office where your colleagues work knew anything about her victimization prior to her death. Don't ask, don't tell!

How is all this relevant to Sullivan and this heading? It's all about the same UVA hoodwinking the community with BS and spin. We all know what happened last June and we have all seen the makeover right in front of our very eyes! It comes from the same PR manual! We're treated like the "community of idiots".

I think UVa may have already lost it's edge to other public universities in the state such as William and Mary and Virginia Tech. The fact that USNWR hasn't reported it yet doesn't make it so. The constant meddling by Dragas and the Governor, wealthy donors forcing albatrosses around UVa's neck, and the, to date, spineless actions by the President have got to take a toll.


Your most recent post is an excellent example of you.

People can form their own opinions.

Remember that glass of merlot I suggested a few weeks back? Time for you to break into the bottle again. You have a personal agenda and apply rape to every situation. For those of us who work with rape victims, we wish you would take a break and reason with fact and not emotion. you don't identify yourself, so methinks you are Sean or one of Sean's brainwashed girls. It is exhausting to listen to your bipolar rants......UVA covers up lots of thinks, but you have to take each matter on its own. And for all your insults, so you have any other forum in which you work, or do you just rant here on the Hook?

Freudian slip -- "covers up lots of "things"

Come on, ladies. Get over yourselves. First things first. Ask yourself what/who is resopnsible for all the ignomy at Virginia and encourage your legislators to get her OUT. Then, you can have all the self-centered squabbles you want. Ok?

Eurohoo has it right. Stay on target--the departure of Helen Dragas (for intellectual, legal, and moral reasons).


I'm interested in your angle.

But I don't think accusing people of bias because of employer goes anywhere (heck, UVa employees have daughters too!).

I wonder if you believe that UVa's policies regarding student misconduct are an extreme abnormality among American public and private universities.

Laramie/Eurohoo... departure of Helen Dragas is the death of the University. at some point you have to accept the change coming to all of Higher Education. The legislators are way too smart to cave to your ridiculous desires. Will never happen..and if it does, all of your faculty is in serious trouble. You all have your hero all wrong... Incremental change is a mistake.

Chris, your comment about Dragas's departure being the death of the University is one of the most ridiculous things I've seen in print since this whole discussion began last Summer. I'd say it's second only to the letter her sister wrote on her behalf. Dragas should have had the decency to resign immediately after the discovery of her plot to oust Sullivan, but she seems to care far more for herself than the university that she is tasked with directing. Healing will not happen with the thorn still stuck deep in the wound.

Hyperbole containment, please. No single individual can bring down nor carry along a behemoth like UVA. Would somebody please elucidate what this marvelous gain is that Dragas stands to receive, and what selfish objectives are being served? If you are not a fan, that's fine, speak your own opinion, but you don't have to drum up wild drama that isn't real. There are people across the country who are alarmed by the trajectory of American higher ed, and they're hopeful that UVa can produce some inspiring paths.

The only person who can complain of a deep wound is Sullivan. She lobbied to have her job back, and thereby lost her license to complain about a wound. There are large numbers of students, alumni and staff who are quieter in their support of advancing than the noisy groups of the disgruntled. Every coterie of individuals I've seen which calls for Dragas to resign has an incomplete understanding of how the university operates, how authority is balanced, or who is responsible for what.

Back to the topic of this article: the Board of Visitors is not involved in day-to-day decision-making nor operations of the university. Decisions about meeting facilities and security are made by professionals on staff at the school.

That thorn has early action applications substantially increased and the University now moving forward with the rest of the world. No more talk of incremental change. Nice try though.

Hoo Cares....very well said. What good do these folks think dragging any drama back up will serve. Let the University move forward. All of this ugly dialogue about Dragas is ridiculous. Selfish? My thought if this individual was selfish, she would have resigned long ago.

@ Chris - agree...IMO: Dragas is the 'bad apple' among the BoV. When Dragas is out, leadership will be restored to the UVA.

Further, we still have the daunting UVA accreditation at risk to think about.

Do not agree at all and have you read the response from the Faculty Senate to SACs? Looks like UVA will not lose accreditation. All is well.


The SAC was never a threat. They'll just slap UVA and fine them.

This is the elephant in the room and the totally underestimated threat to UVA's future rankings and reputation:

What an absolute disgrace to such an esteemed institution. Sullivan should clean house and rid the school of those responsible. If she moves swiftly and heads roll perhaps she can do some damage control. I am confident that the faculty senate will rally around the president and have her do what is right. This is as a result of the Casteen leftovers who are has beens and holding onto to their old ways.

@Chris - All is not well at UVA. Dragas remains and should resign. The SAC IS a threat, and the UVA has not been cleared. Accreditation is still at stake until December, 2012.

@Hoo Cares - Dragas wants to prove that "Strategic Dynamism" works. Even though many will have fallen (kiernan, kington, Prof. Wolf, and " Ian G. Macara, Ph.D.; Harrison Distinguished Professor of Microbiology; Director, Advanced Microscopy Facility resigned Wednesday. His resignation letter to Dean Zeithaml read in part "My wife and I are moving to Vanderbilt University, together with our $6 million in grant funding."

And this is just the beginning. Headhunters are all over the esteemed faculty at UVA. The bleeding continues and Dragas is to blame.

Were the recent moves by the BOV just performance for SACS? What's up with next week's evaluation of the Preseident behind closed doors?

Will the BOV ever have its meetings in a room large enough to accomodate the public and conform to VA open meeting laws? Will the UVA adminsitration support free speech rights on Grounds or will they participipate in shutting down free assembly and free speech?

It's not all Dragas, it's the whole gang of ultra rich BOV who are out of touch with the rest of us living in Va and who don't understand higher education and want to impose business logic on one of the last institutions that can question unbridled capitalism. While Dragas is the poster girl for the corporate class, she's not the only one who should go.We need a BOV that will fihgt for full funding by the state.

The Faculty Senate was tame in its recommendations for changes. We need voting faciulty and staff members on the BOV and we need a system to make the BOV more representative of the Commonwealth and not afraid to demand the Gov and Legislature raise corporate taxes to fully fund UVA. The new budget model and reliance on philanthropy is killing public higher education, acdademic freedom, and our system of governance.

SACs and the AAUP will be investigating between now and December. There are norms in the profesion of higher education about shared governance and these institutions are investigating if the episode of the summer and the BOV operating methods violate those norms.


Once again, an excellently reasoned and persuasive post.

Reference Bacon's Rebellion article, "Inquisitor, Investigate Thyself" . Bacons An intelligent perspective.