Dragas vote: Will rector keep her job?

The turmoil at the University of Virginia that began in June with the firing of President Teresa Sullivan continues six months later with the upcoming General Assembly confirmation of the appointment of Rector Helen Dragas– and opponents calling for her head.

Despite being perhaps the most notorious rector in UVA's history– and inspiring a 2,000-signature petition to the General Assembly opposing her confirmation– the Virginia Beach real estate developer has dug in her heels, and racked up some prominent supporters, including U.S. Senator Mark Warner.

Local legislators on both sides of the aisle are calling for her appointment to be blocked. Dem Delegate David Toscano (he's House minority leader) and Republican Steve Landes have been early advocates of a Dragas exodus. State Senator Creigh Deeds also calls for ending Dragas' controversial tenure.

Others, such as Delegate Rob Bell, who is seeking the Republican attorney general nomination, and Republican State Senator Bryce Reeves, have not stated which way they'll go in the Dragas dilemma.

"It's very difficult to read right now," says Toscano. "A lot of people are playing their cards close to the vest. They don't want to make things hard for the governor, but there's a lot of consternation out there."

Dragas' approval– or rejection– starts with the Senate's Privileges and Elections Committee, which meets on Tuesdays at 4pm and upon which both Deeds and Reeves sit. From there, the confirmation goes to the floor of the Senate, then to the House Privileges and Elections Committee– on which both Bell and Landes sit– and on to the House of Delegates floor. It can be amended at any point along the way. Watch the Senate, advises Toscano.

Dragas opponents have been lobbying their legislators, as has the rector herself. In early December, Dragas met with Senator Janet Howell, the ranking member of the Privileges and Elections Committee.

"We had a frank conversation," said Howell in a statement. "It is my conclusion that she does not comprehend the damage done to the University of Virginia, nor does she accept responsibility beyond having poorly managed the President's removal.

"As a result of these factors, it is my intention to vote against Helen Dragas' confirmation to the Board of Visitors and to move for a recorded vote by the Privileges and Elections Committee and the entire Senate."

If Dragas is not confirmed, she's off the BoV. If she is approved, she remains rector through June 30 and will be on the Board of Visitors another three years.

UVA grad student Suzie McCarthy started a petition urging legislators to vote against Dragas' confirmation. The petition has over 2,000 signatures, including one purporting to be Internet entrepreneur and UVA grad Halsey Minor.

And according to an unconfirmed report, agitated anonymous alums will have a plane circling the Capitol in Richmond January 9, the day the General Assembly convenes, towing a banner between 10:30 and 11:30am that reads, "Restore Integrity @ UVA: Don't Confirm Dragas." 

"It's really not a partisan issue," says Toscano. There's a lot of concern on both sides of the aisle. That's what  makes it so hard to predict."

The week before the General Assembly convened, Toscano floats another scenario for Dragas: "It's also possible that she'll resign before then. A week is an eternity in politics."

This story is a part of the The ousting of a president special.


Clearly this group is getting desperate. Can't wait until this ridiculousness is over so this talented BOV and Rector can finally get to work. Their opposition is stagnating the University.

Why not fly the plane over Dragas' home in Va Beach? Or UVA graduation in May, while John Stewart is giving the commencement address? Is this worthy of a Kickstarter project?

Perhaps Logan should realize that it is not the group that is desperate, but it is Dragas who is desperate to restore her image. While friends of hers and a PR firm being paid over $200,000 tell Dragas she did nothing wrong, everyone else knows that she did. And her actions were worthy of termination. She never really apologized and refuses to tell what happened. Until she does, this will continue to hang over her head, and damage the reputation of UVA. Dragas should do the honorable thing and prove she really does care about UVA by stepping down.

Do you honestly think you can get her to resign? Don't you think she would have already? Do you honestly think the issues facing UVA are going to go away? This group is delusional. My read on it is that this BOV is willing to work with this President and the faculty is trying to run the University. The faculty could care less about the reputation of the school, only their work hours and pay scale.

Logan, how much do you get paid for this stuff?

Time to move on, Toscano and Howell. Please spend your time showing leadership on issues that matter to taxpaying Virginians, like transportation and education of our young people, instead of on a vicious with hunt. Leaders look forward and... well, they lead. The only "damage" being done to the University of Virginia is being caused by you and the "anonymous" alumni who are creating this circus. Move on- your actions and words demonstrate weakness as leaders.

Also curious, which classes are you teaching this semester?

Margaret- You should read the editorial in the paper here in Roanoke today. It was written by Marvin Gilliam who was there for every minute of the situation in June. I think it will help you understand. The title is, "Dragas remains an effective leader for UVA".


I'm a taxpaying Virginian, and this issue matters VERY much to me. Carry on Delegate Toscano and Senator Howell. The folks demonstrating "weakness as leaders" are Dragas herself for the way she handled the botched coup, and Governor McDonnell for reappointing her.

Maybe they should consider changing the start/end date of appointments to boards such as this to coincide with the General Assembly being in session so 6 months wont pass in the future before the peoples' voice is heard.

Logan, I'll be lecturing in Business Administration. How about you?

Also curious must be that egghead that does not even begin to get the obvious. How ironic even in these few postings. Keep on lecturing...

It would be a grotesque tragedy if this destructive Rector's wrongheaded reappointment is not resoundingly set aside simply because she pays public relations plants appearing here, and politicians who have such money lust that it erases any sense of simply doing the right thing. In considering only the question of what is right, there simply exists no rational argument to allow Ms. Dragas to continue her damaging rampage. The University of Virginia does not deserve the infamy she delivers to it. However, since this is such a nonpartsan issue, I am confident that true leaders like Mr. Toscano and Ms. Howell will prevail.

Big cheers for Democratic state senator Janet Howell, who says that Helen Dragas "does not comprehend the damage done to the University of Virginia, nor does she accept responsibility beyond having poorly managed the President's removal." And that's an understatement.

And a big Boooo! to Delegate Rob Bell, who, despite the public airing of Dragas' role in orchestrating Sullivan's ouster for the flimsiest of reasons, says he doesn't know which way he will vote on her reappointment to the Board by Little Bob McDonnell. Meanwhile, Bell is introducing into the state legislature a bill that will make it HARDER for citizens in the Commonwealth to vote. Even though there is little voting fraud in Virginia –– and that which occurs seems to be perpetrated by Republicans –– Bell is signing on to conservative attempts elsewhere across the country to limit the voting of minorities and the poor. This is a pathetic effort from an even more pathetic politician who desperately wants to be the state's Attorney General. And yet he fails to acknowledge the Dragas debacle.

Make no mistake. Rob Bell will put his political ambitions above any principled stand. He doesn't want to alienate Little Bob, nor does he want to antagonize conservative moneybags. Look at who McDonnell just appointed to the Board (conservative donor Bill Goodwin) and you immediately get the picture.

Rob Bell will vote to keep Dragas on the Board. He already knows that, he just won't tell the citizenry or his constituents. He's an embarrassment.

If Dragas truly cared for this University.....she would resign and end the spectacle that her continuing presence has become.

Very selfish.

As should all those overpaid professors that drive the cost of higher education to ridiculous levels.

This isn't completely about denying her a second term with votes from the legislature. It will be difficult to get the votes to reject her because such an action would make McDonnel look bad, and I don't see that happening. Instead, this keeps the spotlight on her and makes it less likely that she can pull another sneaky maneuver. Clearly she won't resign, that would have happened by now. The best outcome is likely a continued situation where there is a great deal of attention paid to and pressure placed upon the board to act in the public interest. There were good recommendations adopted at the board retreat this Fall, and the SACS warning applies additional pressure.

The key is not necessarily whether Dragas goes or stays. In some ways, if she stays there will be MORE pressure to make reforms and more people paying attention to what the BOV does. Instead, it will be interesting to see if the coalitions and action groups that formed this summer can continue to apply pressure. If Dragas is still there, that should provide those groups some motivation to stay active.

Dragas has done serious damage to UVA's reputation. She needs to go, and I hope the Virginia legislature does the right thing.

@jimi, the reason the cost of higher ed has gone up is that the state no longer contributes more than a pittance to the operating costs. Virginia should restore its proportional contribution to higher ed funding to about where it was in 1980.

Huh, shempdaddy?

Given the reappointment of Dragas AND McDonnell's other appointments to the UVa Board –– like conservative ideologues Bobbie Kilberg and Frank Atkinson –– it's very hard to make a sensible argument that "there will be MORE pressure to make reforms," unless those "reforms" are of the ilk that conservatives are pushing across the country.

Bobbie Kilberg worked previously for Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and both Bushes. She’s been a BIG fund raiser for Republicans, and said that “she had initially decided to back Haley Barbour, the governor of Mississippi, if he ran for president.” This is the same big-money tobacco lobbyist Haley Barbour who now works with Karl Rove at right-wing American Crossroads, a group that refuses to disclose its donors. The Haley Barbour who said in reference to racial segregation in the South that "I just don't remember it as being that bad.” The same Haley Barbour who as governor of Mississippi issued pardons to eight men who’d killed their girlfriends or spouses. Uh-huh.

As head of the Northern Virginia Technology Council, Kilberg enthusiastically supported McDonnell’s “Top Jobs” legislation. McDonell touts “Top Jobs” as “a pathway towards awarding 100,000 more degrees over the next 15 years and will bring more innovation and accountability and STEM concentration to Virginia's colleges and universities.” Never mind that there now is and never was a shortage of STEM workers and professionals in the United States.

Frank Atkinson is the consigliere to conservative Godfathers. He’s the trusted advisor and Mr. Fix-it-and-make-it-happen-and-don’t-leave-our-fingerprints-on- it type of guy. Had Atkinson been on the Board when the Sullivan putsch took place, it would have happened differently and probably out of the public eye.
Atkinson has a long and close association with Ed Meese, the Reagan administration Attorney General, who according to Iran-Contra special prosecutor and life-long Republican Lawrence Walsh, led “a conspiracy among the highest-ranking Reagan Administration officials to lie to Congress and the American public” about illegal and unconstitutional acts.

Frank Atkinson is also on the board of directors of the conservative Mercatus Center at George Mason University. The Mercatus Center focuses on “economic development” and “privatization.” Ed Meese is also on its board, as are several others with very close ties to the right-wing Koch brothers (who funded Americans for Prosperity and the Tea Party), including Charles Koch himself. Make no mistake. Atkinson is on the UVa board for very specific reasons.

What Bob McDonnell plans for UVa is not much different that what he intends for public education in general. For K12 education, as Diane Ravitch describes it, it’s “a rehash of Republican education ideas from the past 30 years...subsidizing parents who want to send their child to a private or religious school, encouraging the private sector to operate schools, putting commercial banks in charge of the federal student loan program, holding teachers and schools accountable for students' test scores, and lowering entrance requirements for new teachers.” It’s “support for using taxpayer money to pay for private-school vouchers, privately-managed charters, for-profit online schools, and almost every other alternative to public schools.”

For higher education, the emphasis is on "innovation and skill attainment" and more degrees. As Ravitch notes, the (misguided) belief is that “ higher education will become more affordable when more students enroll in online universities, most of which are low-cost and for-profit. Of course, online universities are cheaper; they have no capital costs, no library, no facilities, and minimal staff. Some are under investigation for fraud because of their methods of recruiting students; they have fended off federal regulation by a heavy (and bipartisan) investment in lobbying.”

This whole sordid affair is is not just about UVa, though there are many who’d like to believe that. It’s about the future of public education in Virginia and in the country.

Bob McDonnell and Ken Cuccinelli and Rob Bell and Helen Dragas and Bobbie Kilberg and Frank Atkinson and their brethren are not interested in acting "in the public interest." They are interested in conservative partisan ideology that has proven to be detrimental and dangerous to the public interest.

Do not expect any "reforms" from these folks "in the public interest." Expect more blood to be bled from the patient.

Shah nah nah nah Hey Hey Hey... Dragas looks like the ultimate Dominatrix HOT!

"..the faculty is trying to run the university."

The faculty and the students ARE the university.

@Democracy - You truly are a super left-wing Dem; unable to accept the past and try to play the Republicans for a Democrats mess. Tim Kaine appointed Dragas. Now, while you want to group Rob Bell, and McDonnell and Cuccinelli and any Republican you hate (which it appears is all Republicans) with Dragas, she was put on the board by a Democrat. Hmmmm, interesting.

I don't have the time or access to facts to determine whether firing Theresa Sullivan was the best decision or not. And it's a BOV decision whether I like it or not. But the manner in which Helen Dragas went about doing this, as an extra-procedural cabal and personal fiat, brought enormous negative publicity upon UVA, and it was a clumsy effort that shows a reprehensible lack of judgement and discretion. Executives get sacked from one day to the next over gross errors like this (or have the honor to resign). Helen Dragas should go if only for showing such poor judgement in such an important matter.

I have 3 degrees from UVA and pay taxes in Virginia. Mr. Toscano is certainly pursuing my interests as representative thank you. So is Mr. Landes albeit in another disctrict. It's not a party issue.

cviller22, that's all old news. We all know who first appointed Dragas to the UVa board. And the article notes that Mark Warner – to his discredit – still supports her.

But Bob McDonnell DID reappoint her AFTER all the dirty laundry on her plotting and scheming and lying was aired, and AFTER it was clear just how devious – dumb – Dragas was in the process.

And Little Bob DID add to the UVa Board ideological partisans like Kilberg and Atkinson and Goodwin.

And Little Bob has shown his “support for using taxpayer money to pay for private-school vouchers, privately-managed charters, for-profit online schools, and almost every other alternative to public schools.”

It's hardly being a "left-wing Dem" to think that McDonnell has erred egregiously. Rather, it's being committed to the core values and principles of democracy, values and principles that conservatives like McDonnell, Cuccinelli, Bell and others care not a whit about. You must be right with them.

By the way cviller22, I am all for Chuck Hagel as defense secretary, and he is a Republican, a sensible one.

But the "crazies" in the conservative House of Delegates will, as The Post details it, present legislation in this session of the General Assembly to "tighten restrictions on voting," and "they are submitting a variety of anti-abortion and anti-contraception legislation," and "they will propose laws seeking to stigmatize the least fortunate Virginians, who are disproportionately African American and Hispanic, by forcing them to undergo humiliating drug tests if they receive welfare subsidies," and they will make every effort "to spike sensible gun-control initiatives while pushing measures to allow more guns around schools and college campuses."

Bob McDonnell and Ken Cuccinelli and Rob Bell will avidly support virtually all of it.

@ Dolemite: You may think the Dragas fight is "not a party issue." Not completely, perhaps. But mostly it is.

No Democracy, for *me* it's not a party issue, thus I'm warding off the "lib Dem left" BS that's likely to be hurled by people who don't agree. And in all fairness that happens in both directions. "Crazies" and "Little Bob" are not hallmarks of mature political discourse either, however much I may agree with your thinking.

The presence of Republican Landes in "out" camp and Mark Warner in the "in" camp makes a case for the cross party nature of the issue generally as well. Please refrain from the patronizing "you may think," thanks.

Hear! Hear! Dolemite. This is far too important a non-partisan issue to be pirated by those who only think one way. The integrity of the University is sullied by the Rector, a political appointee of both parties.

Tha fact that Sullivan is allowing this squabbling to go on is a good indicator of what kind of leader she is. And now her faculty in the voice of Siva is demanding an apology from a gentleman the likes of Bill Goodwin? Does she have any idea what he has given to the University in time and resources? Really Siva? And if the best thing you have to brag about recently with Sullivan is ringing the Salvation Army bell, then we have a huge problem..... While admirable to give time to the Salvation Army, can't you guys dig up anything else?? Go ahead, attack me. I can take it.

Hey Logan,
What happened to all your dirvel about how you support Dragas AND Sullivan? Neither this article nor the discussion has been about Sullivan. Why are you trying again to obfuscate the otherwise clear message about how good governance and progress are rendered impossible by the continued presence of Ms. Dragas on the BoV. Is "Logan" really a nom de plume for Dragas? She, too, talks of future cooperation with the president she disreputably fired, then proceeded to bully incessantly.

Logan, how does it feel to be a paid propagandist? Is it something you always wanted to do as a child? An early fascination with Joseph Goebbles perhaps? How much DO they pay you? Aren't you a little off message, though? I thought the talking point of the last several months was that Dragas and Sullivan would walk hand-in-hand toward the sunlit uplands where UVa would enjoy a bright and bountiful future? Clearly you need to have your masters retool their message, it just ain't working.

I actually do support Dragas and Sullivan working together. Truthfully I think they are going to work very well together and am looking forward to their success. My venom is more toward the Hook and poor reporting.

No way should Dragas be confirmed. Her actions humiliated the University and disgraced the Honor Code. Students commit to Honor, pledging not to lie, cheat or steal. Should we not expect this from the UVA rector? At a minimum she lied to the UVA president and BOV members, as reported in the media. My questions: Why is she lobbying legislators to stay on the BOV? Why on earth would she want to be (at UVA) where nobody wants or respects her? Why don't the BOV members just ask her to resign so they can get about their work? And, when she is gone, might BOV members, starting clean and new, ask to sign the Honor Code pledge as a symbolic statement of their promise of integrity?

Dragas has support from The Governor and Sen. Warner. Will she need more than that? Sadly, probably not

Reappointing Helen Dragas sends a message to the students of UVa that there are no penalties for leading a coup. Future business leaders beware: UVa grads now know that they may as well give it a try.

Logan, I really don 't think Dragas is getting her money's worth from Hill and Knowlton. Do they figure it is just a government contract so they can just put in yourself and the rest of the second-stringers? I mean, this is really pathetic.

Ugliness aside, do you truly think that the only people out there supporting Dragas are paid? Not so, and I still say if these 2 camps join forces, good things can happen.

It is way past time for Helen Dragas to step down. Her continued service on the BOV is a distraction.

And thanks to David Toscano and Steve Landes for all their work on this. They are true leaders.

Dragas must go.

This is precious: "prominent supporters, including U.S. Senator Mark Warner."

Yeesh. Mark Warner has been on the wrong side of every issue since he learned to talk. If it weren't for his Harvard connections and access to privileged information while he was a Congressional aide, he wouldn't have a personal fortune to leverage for his ongoing pursuit of higher office.

There is no "ugliness" in being a second-stringer, keep your head up. I mean last night Notre Dame wasn't really ugly....no, wait, disregard.

@Logan, you obviously do not understand college structure in Virginia. "Tha fact that Sullivan is allowing this squabbling to go on is a good indicator of what kind of leader she is."
Sullivan isn't *allowing* anything. She does not control the BoV, the faculty or the students, the Governor and certainly not the state legislature. The only other option she has is to leave.

See Lisa Provence's The Hook, June 18th article, " Who are the BOV's Kington and Craig?"
Since Mark Warner is Kington's business partner and has donated so much money to Warner's campaigns, it is not surprising that Warner will vote for Dragas. Warner should be aware that the voters will remember his vote tomorrow when he runs for office in the future. I believe he is eyeing the White House. So even when Kington is gone from the BOV, he is not really gone, just behind the scenes

Fortunately, Mark Warner is a US Senator, and not in the Virginia State Senate; he is unable to vote on this issue.

I vote against Dragas with my out-of-state dollars: My daughter will NOT be attending UVA ever. I will be footing the bill, and I vote against Dragas and her lack of leadership.

I wish President Sullivan the best of luck -- with a monster like Dragas breathing down her neck...very concerned...

The good: the illegal and failed attempt to oust the president has firmly put the spotlight on the motley crew that makes up the BOV - the anachronistic nature of the board and the lack of representation by the players that actually make up the school will have to be addressed by all constituents. It's not 1827 anymore.
The bad: all of the BOV appointments are politically motivated acolytes or donors and virtually none of them has any background in, or expertise with higher education issues. Never mind that only 7% of the budget is now state funded and the governor's influence is disproportionate.
The ugly: the rector, who has a career as a real estate developer, seems to take her personal ardor for Uva a bridge too far. The manner of upstaging and then trying to dispose of the president by claiming to act as savior of the academical village has backfired. Still, this "fighter" is trying to burn a second bridge by trying to keep her position at the expense of Uva.

@ Dolemite: Thanks for the political etiquette lesson. Here's a connotation lesson in return.

little: small in condition; narrow; mean; petty

crazy: unsound; impractical; out of the ordinary; erratic; unusual to an extreme degree

bipartisan: marked by or involving cooperation, agreement, and compromise between two major political parties

Over the last nearly four years, Bob McDonnell has shown himself to be a typical conservative, small-minded, ideologically narrow, and often mean anad petty governor. In the wake of gun-related tragedies, he's done nothing. He's turned his back on health care reform and on women's rights. He reappointed Helen Dragas. He raided the state pension fund of more than $620 million to create a "balanced" budget, saddled the state with more debt at 7.5% interest (when rates are at historic lows) payable when he exits office, and claimed he'd fixed the state pension system. He presided over the 2012 Republican party platform, which would ban abortion, prohibit gay marriage (Bob still doesn't understand the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment), privatize Social Security and Medicare, do absolutely nothing about climate change, add a human life amendment to the Constitution with no exceptions for rape or incest, and continue to throw taxpayer subsidies to corporations and the rich. McDonnell called the platform "an ambitious blueprint" that helps "families without savings and neighborhoods without hope" (BIG wink). Most sensible people called it a "mean-spirited and intolerant platform." Little Bob McDonnell deserves the sobriquet he's earned.


The Republican party, both nationally and in Virginia, has become the party of the extreme right. It has purged nearly all Republican moderates. What Republicans stand for is what is contained in the national platform. What they emphatically do NOT represent is the core values embedded in the Constitution: popular sovereignty, equality, justice, freedoms for all citizens, tolerance, and promoting the general welfare of society. Two of the most distinguished and respected Congressional scholars in the nation, Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein, who studies Congress for more than 40 years, recently wrote this:

"...we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party. The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition...Today, thanks to the GOP, compromise has gone out the window in Washington...Republicans have been the force behind the widening ideological gaps and the strategic use of partisanship."


Perhaps that's why former Republican senator Chuck Hagel, nominated by Obama to be secretary of defense, called his party "ideological," "narrow" and "intolerant." It's why a long-time Republican Congressional staffer called Republicans more an "apocalyptic cult" than a genuine political party. Nationally, and in Virginia, the Republican party has become the party of the "crazies." They are what they are.

We'll see how the vote goes on Helen Dragas. But a Democratic vote for her here and there, and a Republican vote or two in opposition hardly constitutes bipartisanship. As I noted, if there is an open vote on Dragas, however it's orchestrated, it may not be completely a party issue, but mostly the votes will fall along party lines. And having Dragas on the UVa Board will not contribute to any sensible reforms, only the kind(s) of "reforms" that McDonnell desires...and we've seen his handiwork in the Republican party platform.

oops....Mann and Ornstein "have studied Congress..."

Yeah quoting the WAPO will convince the right...

@ jimi:

Guess I'll have to explain it to you since I can't draw a picture here.

The first Post link is for the 2012 Republican party platform. It simply contains the entire 2012 Republican platform, some of which I cited above. That's all. I'm not "quoting" The Post....it is the Republican party platform for 2012.

The second Post link is to an article by Congressional scholars Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein. I quoted them above, not The Post. Mann and Ornstein have studied Congress, and all aspects of its functions, including its members, for more than forty years. They are, as I note, two of the most distinguished and respected Congressional scholars in the country. Again, I am citing them –– their words –– and not The Post.

Do you get the picture?

It should be a no-brainer that she goes away from UVa.. Her plan failed, her cohorts were paid off by UVa. and have left to enjoy their winnings at either taxpayer expense or that of a donor whose resources could have benefitted UVa. in other ways. The governor is aparently on the take on this one.(Please Hook look into this.) This whole issue smells of politics, money, and favoritism. Certainly not education. Embarassing to the extreme for UVa.


You are absolutely right. This one is such a no-brainer, and as only bad reasons exist for Ms. Dragass's continued service, it is being closely watched by Transparency International, and if the GA doesn't do the right thing, it will, unfortunately, not reflect well on the country as a whole.

UVA will be cut out of my estate plan and my annual giving will cease if Dragas' appointment is confirmed.

I hope other UVA donors will consider doing the same.

@Democracy. You dont really think I read your stuff do you?

I agree with democracy (thanks for your eloquence and knowledge) and others that Dragas absolutely must go. For those of us who were here in June and went to every Sullivan rally, the shock of Dragas' actions surpassed description. I'm still stunned that she orchestrated the president's ouster with such callousness, strategic timing, single-mindedness and complete disregard for the University's reputation. And appalled that the Gov put her back on the BoV.

From my view, there are some core comments in this thread worth noting:

Kat: "No way should Dragas be confirmed. Her actions humiliated the University and disgraced the Honor Code."

Courtney's Mom: "I vote against Dragas with my out-of-state dollars: My daughter will NOT be attending UVA ever. I will be footing the bill, and I vote against Dragas and her lack of leadership. I wish President Sullivan the best of luck -- with a monster like Dragas breathing down her neck...very concerned..."

And Betty: "UVA will be cut out of my estate plan and my annual giving will cease if Dragas' appointment is confirmed. I hope other UVA donors will consider doing the same."

As an alum, I find it beyond sad that parents are barring the door to UVa for their kids based on the way Dragas and the BoV have conducted themselves. It's an absolute disgrace that folks like Betty will send their donations elsewhere (a reversal of fortune for UVa that began immediately after Sullivan's removal). Who can blame Betty? We used to be a magnet, now we're a possibility.

And the accreditation warning, brought on by Dragas and only Dragas, compounds the damage.

That students are being shown that leadership is really about corporate and narrow interests, not honor and the impeccable reputation we've built since the days of Jefferson? How can we ask our students to behave with diligence, respect and conscience when Rector Dragas is asked back? Because she said she was sorry?

For those who'd like to keep in the loop and find some good resources for keeping up the pressure against Dragas, join Suzie McCarthy's UVa United for Honor Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/United4Honor. I hope Kat, Courtney's Mom and Betty send their profound sentiments in to our legislators. I'm going to, for sure.

Chuckster, yes, everyone should contact their legislators. I wrote to mine. Both are republicans, if that matters. I haven't heard back from either one; however, the senator was quoted in our local paper, "It's the governor's appointment, and I'm not going to be second guessing him."

It's too bad that Dragas was reappointed, and that she hasn't had the grace to resign. I hope the legislature refuses to confirm her appointment and the BOV gets more competent leadership.

That said folks, get a grip. Some of you seem to reduce UVA to Helen Dragas. Someone won't allow her daughter to attend UVA because Dragas is Rector? Seriously dudette? Forget about the faculty and other quality students who will challenge her? It's all about a Rector. Good luck finding an University where every position is filled to your liking.

Sigh. It doesn't matter anymore if Dragas actually has some good ideas or not. Her actions this past Summer were not appropriate as a BOV member, let alone Rector, and the subsequent media coverage, university student/faculty/alumni protestations, and even the warning sanction from the Southern Assoc. of Colleges indicate that none of the controversy will go away until she does. It strikes me as odd that someone who states that she is committed to UVA cannot see the continuing damage, at least from a reputation standpoint, and just step down so we can move on. Even if her initiatives are beneficial, can't someone else without the baggage continue them in her absence?

@JACK MASLOFF, it seems you do not understand that education is a multi-billion dollar business. Education today is all about money.

Here is a description of narcissistic personality disorder:

Reacting to criticism with anger, shame, or humiliation
Taking advantage of others to reach their own goals
Exaggerating their own importance, achievements, and talents
Imagining unrealistic fantasies of success, beauty, power, intelligence, or romance
Requiring constant attention and positive reinforcement from others
Becoming jealous easily
Lacking empathy and disregarding the feelings of others
Being obsessed with oneself
Pursuing mainly selfish goals
Trouble keeping healthy relationships
Becoming easily hurt and rejected
Setting goals that are unrealistic
Wanting "the best" of everything
Appearing unemotional

Now--who do we know who seems to fit this description?

Just 2,000 signatures? 2 thousand - that's it? There are about 21,000 students enrolled at UVA, says their web site. If that petition is expected to suggest the breadth of support to remove Helen, then someone is sadly misinformed. Get busy.

Yes Cville Eye you are correct. I guess it would be nice if someone in power related to this issue had courage and common sense. And that they would use both in a rapid resolution of this. Seems this will never end........and until it does UVa. can't heal and move forward.

Is anyone here concerned about the issues facing UVA? Or just removing the rector and BOV who brought them up?

In an exquisite irony I think Dragas is correct in saying Sullivan is too weak to change the culture of UVA. Dragas, along with Kiernan, Klington, Nu, Jones, and company, however, is the culture of UVA.

Throw in the accreditation warning, the bungling of the response to three female deaths associated with the school, the seething arrogance of the fraternity minority that degrade the school's image with uncorrected binge drinking and papered-over date rapes and you might see the beginning of a problem or two.

Obviously, Logan, serious concern about the University and stopping the damage done to iit by Ms. Dragas, is the ONLY concern these commenters have.

OK, I've read all the postings. Lots of people are both right and wrong, persuasive and illogical, all at once. That's human. The cynical, and therefore safer, bet is that Draga will survive. Big political money trumps citizen outrage, when it comes to political appointments, and BOV memberships and public university president/provost/dean appointments are to a significant degree political jobs, appointed more on the basis of the appointer wanting a result and having the institutional authority to get it more than on any meritorious and reviewable basis (e.g., "I am governor/president/provost/dean, so I get to decide, and whatever objection comes from below is not interesting to me."). They are also temporary, rather than career appointments (so they are not like a tenured professor's). It isn't hard to imagine that Dragas' use of her money has outflanked whatever lobbying effort Sullivan and co. have mounted, if any, to be rid of her. Maybe they haven't really tried -- after all, if Dragas goes, UVa remains shackled with others on the BOV who are not exactly "of the people." One reason they might not have tried, much, beyond the level needed to mollify their outraged constituents, is that as long as Dragas remains she is a convenient foil and flak-magnet for blame, if the reform efforts don't go through (and/or are not really desirable in the view of Sullivan). It is not disputed that since re-instatement, Sullivan's team has not been especially active in any aspect of leadership, but for now they have been able to point to the uncertainty of a dysfunctional relationship with the BOV as a reason for stalling on several semi-grand-ish initiatives (faculty/staff raises, the new budget model, peer review performance evaluations of previously untouchable tenured professors, etc.), rather than to any reason having to do with their own strength as "leaders." They have even been able to silently sit by as others take the public blame for decisions that they really made, albeit not transparently (e.g., the foregoing of the opportunity to rehire climate scientist Michael Mann, who, notwithstanding a press report sniffing up another tree, is rumored to have been viewed by Sullivan as an undesirable litigation target, no matter what staff in the university thought). In the mean time, Madison Hall has really been given a break from scutiny, and has been able to use this to quietly do what it wants in aggregating its own budgetary and programmatic power over the rest of the university, again without heeding the popular craving for transparency or public process. All of that license would possibly vanish, if Dragas were to be dumped. It may be that sticking with the status quo is the preferred outcome for a president who would rather be a quiet incrementalist rather than a radical reformer. Of course, this assumes that anything short of radical reform will placate the accreditors. My guess is that if it does not, initially, more political pressure will be applied to the accreditors, and they will cave, anonymously. And as all of this goes on, UVa will still get to be an extremely selective school in terms of admits, and its graduates will still find good jobs and get into elite graduate school programs to the same degree as do those from its peer institutions. As long as that kind of success happens, who can really care what happens to the careers of a few university managers?

@George, you are right. UVA has many intractable cultural problems. The president who abolishes the Greek system will generate a nice donation from me.

Only 2,000 signatures on the petition? Does anyone know how to get to the petition? The link on facebook's United4Honor blocks certain old browsers, offers a download of 3 new browsers, and upon downloading never gets you to the petition to sign! No wonder so few signatures. Can anyone assist here? Thanks.

@LOGAN and the dragasites

at issue for some alumni isn't merely "the ISSUES facing UVA" as you contend (some issues I strongly agree with her on) or even that she and her conspirators sought to oust Sullivan ----- > its that Dragas went about it in such an incompetent and sloppy way that it became a leadership imbroglio, ran roughshod over the faculty, drew a great deal of negative national attention, and nearly alienated the better half the donor base.

She handled it with the worst mix possible: arrogant, ignorance, and condescension.

She so poorly handled the events of summer she had to hire a firm to cover the ugly and yet didn't have the decency to step down for good of the institution. Before you blame the reaction of the Deans, Alumni, Faculty, and Students - remember the calm before the storm: before the storm she could have acted to build consensus, to address concerns directly and meaningfully, could have offered clearer vision earlier.

She could have acted like LEADER but instead she ordered the captain to walk the plank, pitted the first mates against one another and then informed the crew they shall be setting sail quickly towards ??? - um, somewhere over the rainbow. ...and then went and hide in her cabin. That LOGAN is why everyone brought the storm.

I agree with Chuckster. "How can we ask our students to behave with diligence, respect and conscience when Rector Dragas is asked back? " As an alum, I am shamed. Against all logic, yes : what this one person and her board of cronies has done has altered my view of my own beloved University. Her actions were despicable , "beyond the pale", and her tenacity in clinging to her post proves all of her claims that she wants what's best for UVA to be false, and are evidence of her own arrogance and hubris. Please encourage all friends and alums around the state to stay informed, involved, and to write their legislators.
The Governor is an even greater embarrassment, and certainly has no concern for/ interest in UVA or any other state university, beyond what they can provide for his political aspirations, and misuse of power.

Sure she will -- Forbes just ranked UVA 36th in the Nation and it was also the highest ranked public school. McDonnell and Company will not rock this boat.

But .... they still have the most covered up campus rapes in the nation. I guess one leads to the other......

Dragas created a controversy that completely embarrassed the university for weeks. She has to go. She cannot
be reappointed--this is a no-brainer. I can't understand why Warner would support her--very disappointing. If you try to quietly sack a university president--initiate a coup, essentially--and it blows up in your face, you should resign.

Democracy, I couldn't agree more with your comments about republicans--all true. They are crazy ideologues--and they will ruin this country if they are not more actively opposed and defeated at the local level. Like at Cuccinelli--one wacky dude. They DO hate public education; they are pushing to use more and more public/taxpayer money to fund private/parochial vouchers, and their social/racial views are straight out of the '50s--the 1850s. Well said.

@BinC: you are right, her tenacity at all cost to hang on to that position is by far the biggest turnoff. It doesn't even matter anymore if she is right or wrong on the issues; it is precisely because of her unseemly sense of importance that the flow of governance is obstructed. Does anyone really believe Sullivan can be an effective president with Dragas as rector? No chance. And I am really disappointed in Mark Warner's position on this.

The incestuous relationships among elected officials, big money interests, and the chief occupants of prestigious institutions is of long-standing and nothing said about it here discloses anything more than business as usual. Except to support a political bias (of any direction) I'm not sure why any of this material is being introduced at all.

But even the most carefully crafted arrangements among the movers and shakers (of whatever political stripe) may fall under the influence of particular individuals whose motives and agenda suggest some pathological origins, which the subsequent disruption only serves to feed. We don't have a psychiatric evaluation of Helen, so we are left to compare her behavior to others whose traits have, in the fullness of time, become more clear. If it looks like a duck, etc.

The details may, ultimately, help us knit together the circumstances which ultimately played out as we have seen. But meanwhile, there are the more tangible results at hand. It hardly matters that Helen may have been pure of thought; whether she was, or not, her presence on the board is clearly toxic to all the stakeholders. The fact those in a position to remedy the problem seem least able to do so is a stunning testimony to Helen's effectiveness. Those along and beyond the periphery of the decision makers cannot, owing to their exclusion from Helen's domain, do very much about it, acting as individuals. However, they may be more effective acting en masse. Richmond is only about an hour away; yet I have heard or seen nothing beyond a petition, which appears to be inaccessible. If Helen prevails, those who would have it otherwise have only themselves to thank.

Although many have asserted that partisan politics has no role in this matter, we should remember that it is highly unusual for a general assembly dominated by one party to fail to confirm an appointment made by a sitting governor of the same party. For that reason, the odds are in favor of Dragas' survival on the board. And since she hasn't fled the scene already, we must assume that Dragas really likes being on the board, and that to her it is well worth all of the vitriol she has received since the board's nearly unanimous effort to dump Sullivan failed last summer. That means she is going to want to stick around, in some way, after her term expires (are board members term-limited? I don't know). Those who would rather that she not might begin examining the lists of contributors to the various expected candidates for governor, and align their own political support accordingly, if this issue is big enough to be determinative for them in that race..

@ jimi:

Of course you don't....and that's the problem.


Of I am concerned about what faces UVA, but I think there are a few simple things you really need to accept and understand.

There are only two outcomes for the leaders of a coup;

Success, or execution/exile. Dragas'coup failed. Thus, she has to leave. There is no two ways about. She chose the path of the usurper and the coup, and based her qualifications to lead on that. She demonstrated she did not have either the ability to truly build concensus, or enact a covert take over.

She is not qualified, and need to exile herself from the field.

Sullivan, if she is a flexible leader, needs now to use the power she has gained, and quash any firther fiddling from the board. She got her contract extended, she is the President, she needs to put them in a position where they either they accept her style and path, or they make their resistance public. No more chatter behind closed doors. The board has had all the opportunity in the world to save face and she granted them that. Time to make them play or pay.

In either case, Dragas is done. Her handing on demonstrates she doesn't have the first clue about leadership.I hope you now do.

Old Timer,

You are, of course, right on the mark from the perspective of leadership writ large and history (from which Ms. Dragas would do well to learn). Your observations have equal applicability in the world of corporate governance. Only where the chairman in such circumstance is also the majority shareholder (which, of UVa, Ms. Dragas is certainly NOT -- her behavior otherwise notwithstanding) would he/she not leave. By her remaining, governance is rendered impossible at the University. Unfortunately, your attempt to educate Logan and Chris, either the alter egos of or paid apologists for Ms. Dragas, while correct and well-placed, will certainly come to nothing, as it is her (their) belief that she can simply ignore her embarrassing failures, failed coup, and complete inability, and carry on as if nothing happened. As Napolean admonished, if you start to take Vienna, take Vienna. Neither Ms. Dragas nor her shills can or care to understand the lessons of human experience. Fortunately, however, the Virginia General Assembly can override her thickheaded entrenchment, thank her for her good service, and usher her out of the way.


Maybe so, but I intend to remind Mark Warner of it. He seems to have forgotten as well. I guess she made a good enough story to him, but there is the cold hearted reality of it.

Old Timer,

I couldn't agree more. It is quite shocking that Senator Warner, who has no business in this discussion, has undertaken a campaign against accountability in his state. Virginians must be very proud.

Senator Mark Warner partnered with Dragas' friend Mark Kington in setting up their own hedge fund several years go. That would explain his interest in the matter. Nothing you wouldn't expect from a political hack.

Do any of you even understand the meaning of the word coup, or what I suspect you mean to call it, coup d'etat? It's hard to get past that uninformed starting point to enter this debate.

Dragas' hyperbolic, hysterical and verbose use of language makes me queasy because it reminds me of a certain running mate. Only less popular.

Interesting point, Hootie Hoo, especially since there is no debate over the fact that at UVa the president serves at the pleasure of the board, meaning the office is structurally subordinate to the board. If in order to appease the accreditors and the up-in-arms constituents UVa is forced to impose upon itself additional restrictions and/or requirements for public process in terminating the president, it will be interesting to see how much further down the chain that extends: to the hiring and firing of provosts and vice presidents? to deans? to -- gasp! -- coaches? When is "transparency" needed and when is it not? And if it is always needed, how could an underfunded university deal with the administrative schlerosis that would cause?

I understand that the Senate Privileges and Elections Committee is meeting today about the confirmation. Let them hear your voice: http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?131+com+S8.

General Assembly Vote on Dragas yet? Its 2pm and the Va/S adjourned for day - did I miss anything? Are their phones ringing off the hook?

Senate Committee confirms appointment 12-3.

"Do any of you even understand the meaning of the word coup, or what I suspect you mean to call it, coup d'etat?"

Yes, I think those using the term knowing exactly what they are saying. What Dragas did is what is known as a Palace coup. She might have been in the Royal Household of the BOV, but she clearly did speak for them all, and it appears she did speak forthrightly to all involved. If she were so confident about her actions and the agreement of the board she would have never held individual meetings in the shadows of the pillars.

She had a palace coup and when the light of day shown it blew back on her.

Please remember that Marie Antionette and her husband were supposedly rulers by divine right and their people lived and died at their will. How did that all work out?

Senate Committee confirms appointment 21-3.
A palace coup is undertaken by those not in power in an attempt to obtain power. Not applicable in this situation.

The affirmative vote of the senate committee must now go before the entire legislature for approval.

Um no Hoo Cares, Palace Coups are taken by those who don't have total power and think they should have total power. Very applicable here. If Dragas had the power to do what she did, she wouldn't have done it the way she did it.

Notice your silence on the French revolution. I bet you are one of those right wing unilateral sort of guys until its you who get dumped on.

No, it goes to full Senate, then to House committee, then full House.

Look on the bright side UVA, you can go right back to calling state legislators nazis, rapists, sexists, neanderthalls, and backward knuckle draggers later this week. Your time in fantasy land thinking you were going to tell these same people what to do is almost over now..

Compromise and cooperation are possible and even to be encouraged among democrat and republican appointed BOV members. Time for the fanatical Marxists to get over it. You lost - again.

What does Marxism have to do with wanting to get rid of someone who botched her job as rector in such a miserable fashion?

"Time for the fanatical Marxists to get over it."

It will be interesting to see how those "fanatical Marxist" alumni vote with their checkbooks. Bad decisions or at least bad execution from the BOV in Summer 2012 might have alienated the most reliable and significant source of non-tuition income.

I think a vote for Dragas will mean that either UVa will have to 1) raise tuition significantly; or 2) decrease academic services and thus decline in rankings (i.e., eroding the brand); or 3) cut free Health Sciences from the public academic hospital model, which would mean privatization.

And perhaps all three.

Dragas isn't the doom of UVA, this just means lower quality faculty and higher costs. UVA survives on alumni support and its ability to attract great faculty despite paying them less than they would make elsewhere.

Dragas's reappointment hurts because she alienates half the donor base and is repellent to potential quality faculty - which both translate into higher recruitment costs and fewer $ with which to recruit them. No GA vote will change that. No PR firm can fix that.

In the end UVA will continue to educate and treat and make discoveries for the Commonwealth regardless of what political theatrics are happening in Richmond, but it does make sad...

How about time for the crony capitalists to get over it?

Mark Warner partnered with Mark Kington to form the Columbia hedge funds specializing in telecoms. Kington was a best bud of Dragas and her stunningly incompetent and unethical move to oust Sullivan. Warner should have the decency to keep his mouth shut on the issue of Dragas' board seat being confirmed by the Legislature as he has a very blatant conflict of interest in the matter.

ebyn knott,

You couldn't be more right. Sigh.

Governor McDonnell could easily have replaced Ms. Dragas with a partisan republican donor. He didn't. Instead, he took his cue from Dragas and Sullivan themselves, supported them burying the hatchet, and reappointed a rector who had been appointed by Tim Kaine. It should have been a feel good moment for everyone, dripping with bipartisan compromise, forgiveness, and moving forward. But no, the radicals at UVA found out that Ms. Dragas made campaign contributions to Kaine, Warner, Obama, and - Romney! That last one sent them on their latest holy war, frothing about, name calling, and a lot of pretty ridiculous bile.

Naturally, they now presume that the university will implode because compromise and forgiveness have/will win out over their extreme partisan hatreds. But let's remind ourselves here that we have a university in this town that has been covering up sexual assaults, rapes, and even the deaths of it's own students for decades now. They do abortions in house with your money, and regularly misinform their own students regarding such small issues as cancer and birth defects. But alas, THIS little BOV drama is what the casual Marxists at UVA get all hot and bothered about.

Dragas and the Governor can't loose, can they? When UVa starts slipping in the ratings and the best students start going elsewhere it will be the Sullivan who gets the blame. By some studies UVA is already eclipsed by the University or North Carolina at Chapel Hill as the No. 1 public university.

WOW George, you really pay attention to this stuff dont you. Rather if you had you would see UNC and UVa occasionally trading places for many a moon. And if you realy paid close attention to what those ranking actually rank, you would see just how rank the system is. that said, data collected prior to the Dragas saga still show other publics ahead of UVa.


There are a LOT of excellent colleges where the students, faculty, and administration are all rowing together. Anyone who thinks UVa can sustain several more years of this dysfunctional circus and not slip badly is delusional.

This was bound to happen in one way or the other. UVA was transformed fundamentally starting in 1989, and turned into a hyper partisan political place with the goal of providing a good time for students while they became far left voters. Any university doing in house abortions (when there are two other places already in town to get them) and turning a blind eye to sexual assaults, overdoses, and its thriving drug trade is using that template. Along comes a conservative governor and House of Delegates - both elected by a landslide - and naturally the BOV is going have some problems with this situation. Did anyone really think they wouldn't?

UVA fell out of the top 100 in the Academic Ranking of World Universities a few years back. But hey, it's # 1 according to Hugh Hefner and his teams of "fact finders" who come to town to sample the, um, talent! It's still floating in the rankings of magazines who accept advertising money from the school's they rank. Big deal.. People obsessing over this relatively small drama can't see the forest for the trees. Something was bound to give. It did, and it's not going to stop here either. Perhaps it's time for the big shots to consider the effects of what they did to one of the world's premier educational institutions 1990-2010. I'm not suggesting that it be turned in the other direction and become Virginia's next Liberty or Regents University. I'm just mentioning the obvious that state universities shouldn't have become political indoctrination centers for the far left, hubs of monied corruption, and carefully protected bubbles of sex, drugs, and rock & roll. Jefferson's whole idea for UVA has been left behind. Maybe it's high time it returned to his ideals..

Seannie, you obviously didn't go to UVA. And why shouldn't the university provide abortion through student health? (It doesn't, or those of my friends who had abortions in college would have gone there.)

..didn't go to UVA because he refused to accept admission via the Guaranteed Admission Agreement after graduating from PVCC with Honors.

Ever notice how often you folks have to get personal and bitter with someone - as a form of distraction - rather than try and defend your own views?? The fact is that Sullivan and Dragas decided to bury the hatchet and move on. A conservative republican governor reappointed the rector who was appointed by a liberal democrat governor. You'd think that in hopelessly partisan America, this would be welcomed as a rare example of peace and reconciliation. But no, the big money big shots at UVA bankrupting a generation of students while they Summer in Europe and Winter in the Caribbean just want their way - and to hell with compromise or reconciliation.