Unanimous: BOV votes to reinstate Sullivan

After two tumultuous weeks, UVA President Teresa Sullivan has been reinstated by unanimous vote of the Board of Visitors.

"Good things that have come out of all this," said embattled UVA Rector Helen Dragas. "Values of honor, integrity and trust have been truly tested."

Following motions to reinstate Sullivan by Board member Heywood Fralin and by Dragas, all 15 members of the Board voted in the affirmative.

With about 2,000 people gathered outside on the historic Lawn and following the proceedings on a live feed, the crowd burst into a tumultuous roar, a joyful sound that could be heard inside the dignified oval chamber.

Speaking briefly to the Board, Sullivan expressed her hopes, and then she incited another roar as she came outdoors to address the gathered crowd.

"All of us seek only one thing: what is best for our university. We know now that we are joined by thousands of others who care passionately. I need to have your support, need you to reach out to your networks in the Commonwealth and around the world."

In his remarks prefacing his reinstatement resolution, Fralin conceded that all Board members possessed advance knowledge of the desire to remove the president. He says he regrets that he wasn't "clever enough" to know that he and just two other board members could have called a meeting to demand a full roll-call vote.

"I wish I'd been a little more clever," Fralin reiterates after the meeting, and he asserts that he had "no idea" whether Dragas really had the 12 votes that Board rules require to remove a president.

In response to another question, he did little to dispel the notion that there was frantic vote-jockeying, one-on-one conversations between Board members.

"I'm sure there were," says Fralin, but he adds that he went into the meeting knowing how only one vote would be cast: his own.

He said he had no idea whether Dragas would be reappointed, and he expressed a belief that the governor was not involved in "this process."

So how will Sullivan work with a board whose members would let something like this happen?

"We'll find a way," she tells a gaggle of media.

Moments earlier, she was standing on the marble steps of the Rotunda with the University Singers singing the Good Ol' Song.

Out on the Lawn watching it all play out was Jim Severt. A 1987 graduate of UVA Law, he gave up a few days from legal practice in Washington to watch the controversy– which had monied players from as far north as Greenwich, Connecticut– play out in Charlottesville.

"To paraphrase Paul Tudor Jones," said Severt, "now we really should be elated."

It just goes to show you how fantastic our community is," said Fourth Year student Ariel Majidi. "So strong."

Zainab Al-Sayegh, who plans to graduate from UVA in the fall, said the controversy had her worrying that the value of her degree was eroding.

"I am so relieved and so encouraged," said Al-Sayegh. "It actually now means more than I ever thought it would.

Also cheering the decision was a Second Year student named Kevin Zeithaml, whose father, the dean of the undergraduate commerce school, first accepted and then rejected an offer to step in as interim president.

"First off, I’m glad it's over," says Zeithaml. "It's been a long week—a long two weeks for everyone involved."

Zeithaml expressed pride in his father for offering to lead in such a charged atmosphere.

"I have never been more proud to be a student at the University," said Zeithaml. "Everyone involved, at the end of the day, did their jobs and did them well.

"And I think with the vote today, we’ve restored confidence in the University to some extent—or begun to, and I think the next few weeks, next few months, even the next few years are going to be building years for the University. I think it’s going to be a really interesting time to be a student here, to be a faculty member here. It’s going to be a really, really special time."

with additional reporting by Hawes Spencer and Valerie Clemens

 Watch the SLIDESHOW

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


All 16 members voted? I thought Kington resigned last week.

Excellent. Dragas, time to step down.

Oops! Corrected. Student member of course doesn't vote.--Courteney Stuart

Now we can hopefully have the debate over what we need to do going forward. Seeing and hearing the speakers on this over the last weeks really made me miss not being on grounds surrounded by such intelligent, thoughtful and fun people. It also has spurred me to look up and communicate with classmates. I've been amazed at the wide variety of activities everyone is involved in and how successful they have been.

It would be ironic if they fired her again in two years.

Now let's democracy work. Let's take our votes to make change, from the board governance to the selection of the board members, and to the process of who should stay and who should never step foot into this institution again!!! Go UVA students, staffs, and local citizens!

The BOV claimed the process used to get rid of her was flawed . They implored the new BOV to improve the process.

I watched online, I'm hoping to get the recap of the comments on the Lawn!

What an utter train wreck and embarassment to the University...

Good for her.

Shame on them.

It seems to just be a stop gap measure to buy a little peace until they get the process refined . Job performance of the Pres. would have been the same now as it was before the vote .

I'm very pleased with Sullivan's remarks. True class. Now, she needs to remove the negative forces around her - namely Strine.

So does she have to give back her big fat severence package?

"who should stay and who should never step foot into this institution again!!!"

Now that we all got what we wanted, let's not lose the end game by making permanent enemies. To paraphrase Harry Truman: I'd rather have some enemies in my tent pissing out than outside my tent pissing in. Now that Dr Sullivan is virtually unassailable for the rest of her contract I'm sure she's smart & gracious enough to use those BoV and staff members who remain for good purposes.

Imagine if a board of directors of a popular consumer goods company fired a president without warning after only two years on the job. And it was discovered a couple major stockholders had convinced senior management to organize a coup (outside of the majority of the board). And then it was dubious as to how many of the board actually had a role (other than voting by phone in the 11th hour) in the firing. And then the stockholders--and consumers--raised holy hell. And then it became apparent the president had a clear plan of action for the company, and that stockholders loved that president. And then members of the board began backtracking...and changing their stories...and contradicting the chairman of the board.

It is fair that, after all that, one would see the need to change the procedures of the board AND get rid of most of the board.

R.I.P.: Richard Deacon

@Exciting News June 26th, 2012 | 4:26pm
I agree!

No doubt he's (Strine) kissing up to her as we speak but then again, so is the BOV. They enjoy their perks and certainly didn't want to hear from their governor …You’re FIRED!

Any chance of reading President Sullivan comments after the BOV meeting. The stream set up was GREAT inside but HORRIBLE outside. Did Dragas show up outside with President Sullivan?

carrboro pete...your quote was LBJs response when asked why he kept j edgar hoover...

Strine would seem to be vulnerable now.

Thanks to the Hook staff for doing such a great job covering this story. You helped make history.

The hypocrisy is astounding. Suddenly all factors used to force Dr. Sullivan's resignation are irrelevant? Surely at least one member on the Board of Visitors who felt so passionately about Dr. Sullivan's poor performance would display some manner of integrity and stand by their original opinion and vote. Nope. I guess all previous justifications for the forced resignation were not legitimate? I would say the "Values of honor, integrity and trust" were not truly tested, but rather violated and at least one board member needs to resign their position on the Board of Visitors in order to truly restore honor.

Yes Jacob my sentiments zackly . Instead of being honest to their own opinions they simply joined the herd . A board of distinguished,accompolished individuals quickly caved in just like Sullivan did .

Several people on the Board of Visitors had to fall on their sword today. But only two that we know of who were part of the triumvirate that acted as the 'executive committee', and told Sullivan they had the board's backing for their action. Their bluff was called by Composite UVa via the rallies, the letters and emails, etc. - in essence, the protest action. One man whom I don't know said "it feels good to protest!". Yes, it does. And feet on the ground works!

The impact of the UVa community's voice magnified in person and by social media brought what in the past would have been a shady, backroom deal with no chance of reversal into the sunlight and allowed for everyone to have a say in the process. A great day for modern engagement and communications!

It may feel good to protest but if you don't have a clue what you're protesting for (hint it has to be more than a vague call for justice), you aren't helping the process in any way. In all the articles I've read about this whole ordeal, there has been very little mention of Sullivan's actual accomplishments or vision for the University. That isn't to say there are none, but this whole circus seems to be more about the unusual circumstances of her dismissal and not about what is actually best for the University's future.

Good for Sullivan for getting a second chance. I hope she uses it to prove she was worth protesting for.

I can't believe that anybody making these negative comments about Michael Strine knows anything about the man, other than gossip. He is a huge asset to President Sullivan, to the University of Virginia and to this community. His character is unimpeachable and anybody that knows him will agree.

I know it's dramatic to create intrigue here, but it's also destructive and mean-spirited.

"But only two that we know of who were part of the triumvirate that acted as the 'executive committee'"

I wonder aloud if Craig got asked to attend the "emergency" Sunday meeting to make the needed quorum just because he was local. He could have been left in the dark or otherwise misled by the cabal, et cetera.

I was on the Lawn- Wahoo Wah!
Please- where can I find the live feed of the BOV meeting???
Thank you.

Show your support for Sullivan, give to the President's Fund for Excellence:

From the webpage: Your gift to this fund gives the University’s president the capacity to launch special initiatives, to meet pressing needs as they arise, and to capitalize on emerging opportunities to strengthen academic and student-life programs. Through this fund, the University’s president makes tactical investments and reports expenditures annually to the Board of Visitors. In past years, the fund has financed retention of key faculty members who have been offered positions at competing universities; and its resources have been invested in critical fields that are in the nascent stages of winning foundation, endowment, or other revenue support.


Excuse me, if you're on the Board of Visitors, shouldn't you know the voting rules? I'm appalled that so-called educated, powerful, successful, and wealthy individuals don't even know the procedures of their own governing body. Geezus, Fralin.

Congratulations are due to all those students and faculty who helped organize the restrained rallies outside the Rotunda and who kept up the pressure on the Board and on the Governor. Congratulations are also due to The Hook, which in my opinion has done the best job of any news outlet of covering this entire affair for the entire country and for U.Va. grads throughout the world. Great job.

But let's not think for a moment that this storm is over. It's not. We are going to see a push for major changes at the University. We must insist that liberal education not be thrown overboard. We must be vigilant to see that The University remains The University and that its functions are not all sold to private, profit-making interests. This is just round one in a long, long fight. Let's never lose sight of that unfortunate fact.

@Old Wahoo. Thanks for the overly nice comment. (Not true, of course. The Cavalier Daily, the great WaPo, the RT-D, and our town's own Progress have rocked.) By the way, the above story's been lengthened a bit since it first went up.--hawes spencer

@Old Wahoo - Very important point. I hope UVa with all the great thinkers and communicators there has a vigorous and OPEN debate on the future of education and UVa. I was appalled at the shallow analysis (I hesitate to even call it that) that has been conducted by those that advocate many of the “changes” I’ve been hearing about. As an Engineer, I’m not supposed to care about the humanities and I’ve always been terrible at languages but being around and interacting with people studying Anthropology and Philosophy and other disciplines at UVA made me a much more well-rounded person and really therefore a better engineer (although mostly in Management these days :(

I'd like to think that a straight rendition of the facts -- no BoV executive session to discuss Mrs. Sullivan's performance or face-to-face vote -- would have been enough to cue the call by the alumni, faculty, and staff for a reversal due to lack of a fair (even though legal) process. The Cav Daily's FOIA request, and the extraordinarily prompt response to it, is what really stirred up those outside Grounds.

But many will point to the myriad of conspiracy theories floated over the past two weeks, as the tipping point. I hope President Sullivan and the new BoV don't buy into those. President Sullivan spoke to this being an opportune time to get everyone moving on the changes needed at the University, now that all groups are paying attention. I hope that is the positive upshot of this. That is what the Deans promised in their artful letter. It would damage President Sullivan if the response of the faculty and some alumni, (with or without the support of some in the press who just like to stir the pot to sell ads) is to dig in their heels and consider the BoV's change of heart as the ticket to blocking change at UVa.

The Classics are bandied about here as a department some wanted on the chopping block. Was there any support for that in writing, or was that a clever department to use as ploy to rally around the Humaniites? What if the department floated was the relatively new Media Studies Department, which essentially studies the cultural anthropology of media? Are Old Wahoo and others really taking the position that there is to be no critical evaluation of the CLAS departments and their course offerings going forward? If so, you would place off limits an evaluation of a department that graduated 19 students in 2012, but employed 6 full time tenured and tenure-track professors, 3 adjuncts and 3 affiliated professors (including one who straddles Media Studies and German). There may be a very defensible argument for such a department, but it bears looking at critically before decreeing that conclusion. Or, it may be determined that the discipline does not justify a "department," and that it is better for the University to fold some of the current MDST classes into other disciplines. Those are the types of discussions that need to be going on at UVa, forthwith.

"if so, you would place off limits an evaluation of a department that graduated 19 students in 2012, but employed 6 full time tenured and tenure-track professors, 3 adjuncts and 3 affiliated professors (including one who straddles Media Studies and German)."

If the ratio of employees to graduating students is the measure, then the football team should be on the chopping block too.

Might well want to compare the salaries of football staff (classified as "faculty") with academic teaching faculty.

The recent stalemate at UVa about Strategic Dynamics gave way to a new zeitgeist of
Transformational Mutual Reconciliation.

"... And all manner of thing shall be well."
Julian of Norwich

Rodney -- never said "the measure." But it sure is one factor to look at. Unless, of course, you are in the "no changes at all" camp.

As to Football, I think the team would do fine under President Sullivan's entrepreneurial budgeting model :-)

Observer: I never have a problem with a critical examination of any department or course of study. But I do think that to call oneself a university one must offer at least some courses in the classics and in all of the major Western languages. Of course, today one must also offer Japanese and Mandarin and perhaps several other oriental languages as well. Should each have its own department? Perhaps not. That is the sort of discourse that is constructive. And it takes a lot of input to decide what to do. Not just looking at a couple of opinion pieces in the news and then panicking, which it seems certain members of the Board did or at least gave the impression of doing. I still am unsure of the motives here.

@An Observer

Are you aware of the great transfers of student "activity fees" to the athletic department? Some data:


Repeated Thanks to the Hook .
This is first time I've commented , but I've been reading for a few years regarding other University events, and appreciate learning readers thoughts from afar. To pick up on one comment- where did the threat of losing Classics ( and German I also heard) come from? It certainly resonated considering the priorities of our founder- but, in my opinion, we all need to have open minds

Weevil- the big fat severance package was basically in the terms of her original contract as what she would get if fired, vs resigned

"So does she have to give back her big fat severence package?"

Since the severance was less than her salary, I don't think she'll mind.

"In all the articles I've read about this whole ordeal, there has been very little mention of Sullivan's actual accomplishments or vision for the University."

Apparently, you haven't read the right articles. You might want to start with Sullivan's statement, which did a much better job of articulating her vision and accomplishments than Dragas ever did of articulating the issues that she felt required reckless action in the first place.

"Surely at least one member on the Board of Visitors who felt so passionately about Dr. Sullivan's poor performance would display some manner of integrity and stand by their original opinion and vote. Nope. I guess all previous justifications for the forced resignation were not legitimate?"

Or maybe it really was just Dragas and Kington trying to pull a fast one all along?

Thanks, Old Wahoo. I agree UVa should continue to offer classic liberal arts courses and that departments for each discipline may or may not be justified.

Rodney -- might that figure have to do with UVa students not having to pay for football fix? At the SEC schools and Big Ten schools I am aware of, students have to buy tix to football and basketball (most other, non revenue sports are free admission). At UVa, one enters on his or her student ID.

What would be interesting, on a number of levels, is whether UVa would alter its practice if interest in the team increases such that tickets become harder to get for Alums and townspeople.

^^ football tix . . . @$!& autocorrect ;-)

Hi Mr. Carrboro Pete:

Cannot agree with you more about not seeking and not making enemies. Such act is good for nothing! You quoted part of my comment and made my intention as if I am out seeking revenge, flesh and blood. My comment was let get our votes to make a change, be it a process of appointing a member, an evaluation of competency of a current member, or an option of VOTING a memeber out. That who should stay and who should leave should be based purely on competency and ability to do the job. The process should be a democratic one. Never once do I believe in the notation that "If you are not my friends, then you are my enemy." or " If you are on my side, then you are my enemy." That mentality has insidiously but dangerously seeped into the political arenas of this country that nothing gets done in time and every thing will be done hastily when deadline approaches. Just because I happen to disagree with some one on a subject doe not mean I would treat such patient as an enemie. There is a sea between opposing and disagreeing with someone and treating that someone as enemy. I hope fewer and fewer people have such a mentality so that we all work together to leave something meaningful to the next generations.

'"Good things that have come out of all this," said embattled UVA Rector Helen Dragas. "Values of honor, integrity and trust have been truly tested."'

Yeah. And one of us got an F.

I think Helen and the Board of Visitors official position is now "Never Mind"

or we were just kidding

After putting the university through all of this they act as if they rode in on the white horse and saved the day

Hey, we just put up about a dozen groovy photos from the event. Click on either camera icon above or this link: http://www.readthehook.com/g/unanimous-bov-votes-reinstate-sullivan

This is a great day for the University and a great day for The Hook and all the other media that make this great day happen.

This is a teachable moment. BOV members need to know the rules of the BOV and need to have a better orientation going forward to make sure that the rules are observed.

The Legislature needs to take a hard look at the appointment process for all the Boards in the Commonwealth. When a member of the executive branch proposes, the legislative and judical branches should be in the position of advise, consent and review of any constitutional questions.

Who should stay and who should go in the University administration should be up to President Sullivan. The Governor should not reappoint anyone involved in this process on the BOV.

Many lessons have been learned in the last two weeks. A wise person once wrote: "When the student is ready, the teacher will come." The teacher has come, let the learning begin!

'"Good things that have come out of all this," said embattled UVA Rector Helen Dragas. "Values of honor, integrity and trust have been truly tested."'

This is like MacDonald's commenting on "natural food" and "good nutrition"; or like those adverts for BP on public television celebrating its dedication to the environment ahead of profit. Is its standard practice for clients of Hill & Knowlton to embrace their biggest deficiencies?

At the present moment, what appears important to me is that originally the public was told "The president is being removed; we are going to appoint an interim president to make tough decisions and take action; we have the right to do this; sound business practices dictate that we not comment on personnel matters." Many were sure that this was the end of discussion - including many BOV members... but, not everyone gave up so easily.

Faculty, alums, staff, donors, and the public said "Not so fast." and the rest is now history. Could you have imagined any group of concerned people causing the BOV to reverse a decision before any of this happened? I couldn't.

Yes, there is much work to do - and President Sullivan's reinstatement does not change that. We all have to work together to make the University what it should be - but the key word there is "together". No one person, or small group of people, should feel that their vision of the University is the only acceptable one.

Today we celebrate, but tomorrow, we have to get back to work.


So glad my pseudonym at the Hook is now outdated. Great big Congrats to the Hook for a fantastic job at covering these events and for providing a much needed forum for your readers to get thoughts, feelings, suggestions and concerns off their chests these last two weeks. I think many of us have learned a lot from the process and from each other. Thanks to the Hook for helping with that course. Now as Old Wahoo said there is still a lot of work to be done but we are stronger and more unified than we knew we were. That is a huge accomplishment. Big thanks to Hawes and all of your very hard working staff at the Hook!

Another lesson learned: the community and the media need to pay attention to the BOV appointments and when the University turns a blind eye to issues, only the media and the alums/students/parents can correct the course of action.

Congratulations to all who stood up for the letter and spirit of democracy at a time and place where it really counted. I believe that the entire University of Virginia Community stands taller and brighter today. Welcome back President Sullivan! Today U.Va. rose to the occasion where its democratic values were tested and affirmed. Tomorrow we advance this mission to include those communities who have not been able to enjoy what U.Va. has to offer.

@Susan Russell June 26th, 2012 | 6:25pm
@The Truth Shall Make You Free June 26th, 2012 | 8:07pm

Good points! Eventually, the whole truth will evolve but not any time soon. True colors have surfaced, we have made peace and moving forward is the order of the day. It's been a good day....a very good day!

How wonderful that our founder can be counted on for the most timely quote Upon being elected President (I need to check which election): "It is pleasant for those who have just escaped threatened shipwreck to hail one another when landed in unexpected safety"" Credit to Richard Perez-Pena from the New York Times.

I want to thank Heywood Fralin profusely for the character he displayed and his efforts over the course of this episode. The reticence and humility he displayed today are characteristic; but it is my strong impression that, without his actions, today's meeting would never have occurred.

The term "Virginia Gentleman" is antiquated to some and, deservedly, carries both positive and negative connotations. Mr. Fralin has pulled those two words into the 21st Century in a manner that should make us all proud.

@Simply Stated June 26th, 2012 | 8:42pm

and don't forget the STAFF! We often go unnoticed but we have keen eyes and alert ears and we are watching......believe me....we notice!!

But I have seen the staff sit back silent, afraid of losing their jobs, and allowing the admin to make bad decisions. You have a double edged sword that you must be careful of....The last time I saw the staff participate in any type of rally was the Silent Protest in 2004.

Well today is the first day of the next phase of the battle.

Old Wahoo makes a sound point that the onslaught will continue. This has been the case across the country. There is a well financed culture war out there launched against higher education. We saw the editorials in the Wall Street Journal, Anne Neal's of ACTA opinion piece in the 23 June Washington Post., Brooks, and so on. We have seen ACTA's war plan for Virginia higher education.

Next up is the appointment of new BOV members by the governor. We will have to assess that. Then there is the General Assembly and the state of legislation regarding higher education there. There is the governor's own legislative agenda. So we have to assess all that as well.

We will have to assess the education committees in the General Assembly and the position each member takes on higher education. We will have to assess the Republican party stance and the Democratic party stance, where they differ and where they overlap.

With respect to the University, it is self-evident that a major change is needed in governance. The next fixed objective of those concerned about the future of the University must be to secure a voting seat on the BOV for Faculty and one voting seat on BOV for Staff. Other changes toward democratic governance can also be made. Additionally, a Living Wage for Staff should be supported.

The core of the University, A&S, must be defended. The Humanities must be defended. This is Mr. Jefferson's University and there are core values here as have been seen in these recent days.

Thank you HOOK.

God Bless Mr. Fralin.

It is not wise to throw out an entire B of V at once- especially with a new president. Institutional knowledge and history are vital when governing discussions are held. Notice I said discussions, not disgraces.

I call for the current Board of Visitors to immediately retire the current fundraising campaign giving the remaining 400 million themselves and/or with the help of two particularly involved alums as a way to begin to apologize and repair the damage done to the University of Virginia and the great Commonwealth of Virginia.

@Simply Stated June 26th, 2012 | 9:26pm
"The last time I saw the staff participate in any type of rally was the Silent Protest in 2004".

Well, my friend, all of us make bad decisions for one reason or another. When one is on the low end of the ladder, we report to the supervisor. What happen after that.....good question.
I DON'T know all members of the UVA staff or the rallies they attend or don't attend. I DO KNOW that I've been at many rallies and so have many of my good friends (also staff members).

Poor Poor Helen,

I know how much it hurts; Superior People like us do not need to follow the regular moral rules like the Lesser People.

Know that you are welcome in our club when arrive.

Richar Nixon
Adolph Hitler
Joseph Stalin

Please update me when UVA has a cohesive plan regarding each area that will strengthen and promote your university.

Progress has begun with the reinstatement and overwhelming support for Dr. Sullivan.

That withstanding, what are your plans to secure our children's future?

Your plans must include internet courses that cost what my child will pay as a 'physical' bricks and mortar student. Your plans must include maintaining the Medical Center revenues (look at your ER and compare to Chicago ER's). Your plans must include removal of donors who want specific reforms but donate illogical facilities in their name instead of funding; say...the internet courses they wanted. Your plans must include a diversified board - NO MORE OF THIS donate to the Governor's campaign & you shall be guaranteed a spot...enough! Your plans must include an entire revamp of UVA BOV. Your plans MUST incorporate your knowledge base (ie. distinguished professors at every level). Above all, your plans must incorporate your student's needs and desire for knowledge from their teachers/profs at UVA. Nothing else will do. All else will fail. Why? Because Rector Dragas exposed all your weaknesses to the public.

Please do not rest on your laurels. There is so much to be done.

All the very best to UVA Faculty and Students!

Mr. Karacofe and I are of one mind, and I don't believe we have ever met. Mr. Fralin acted in the best traditions of the University. All of us owe him a debt that can only be repaid by our eternal vigilance lest the University be co-opted by the "rich, wise, and well born" [to quote Daniel Webster, who, after all, was bribed by Nicholas Biddle of the 2nd Bank of the U.S., "My retainer has not been refreshed as usual."]

sic semper tyranis

I must add that I find it shocking that one cannot expect to be appointed to the Board of Visitors unless one is a multimillionaire or a billionaire. While I do not doubt that finances are always important and while I do not deny that we need the donations of the wealthy and the advice of those who know finance, I am not at all convinced that only the wealthy should serve on the Board. For example, Mr. Monroe was very unsuccessful financially throughout his life, but he was an excellent President of the United States and Visitor. When did money come to rule the Board? Certainly money does not equal wisdom. And it often breeds arrogance, as we have witnessed in the starkest terms this past three weeks.

Re the argument about staff above: staff who speak up in a situation like this deserve particular admiration. They don't have tenure. But, by the same token, it's unreasonable to blame them for not speaking up. They don't have tenure.

One of the takeaways of this business is that there is a point to tenure. It allows a sizeable body of people in a university to speak up without (very much) fear of reprisal when they see things going off the rails. That's what happened here, and it was good that it happened.

Today's decision by the board was smart.

Not b/c Sullivan is a good/bad overseer of the University, but rather because she had grounds for one helluva lawsuit against the board, the university and the commonwealth. It's surprising to me few have written in weeks of reading comments that she was terminated under extremely questionable pretenses. We might be a "right to work state" but read the code. She had grounds.

The staff and faculty of UVA obviously recognized the legal conundrum Rector Dragas and Vice Rector Kington placed the entirety of UVA and the Commonwealth under when Sullivan was blindsided by their directive to resign.

Recall, Sullivan's employment review was favorable and within a few short months she was confronted to resign. Also recall that in the early days of this announcement, Rector Dragas stated to the Governor the decision to demand she resign was unanimous, which equals ALL BOV. We learned this was not factually correct.

Thus, Dragas and Kington left the university and the commonwealth open to a lawsuit which would have demanded grounds for termination for which none wished to be exposed.

This said, the UVA faculty, staff, alumnae and students saved the board and the commonwealth from themselves. Kudos to those who looked beyond the emotional and dealt directly with forcing the board to deal with this travesty justly.

This drama has only just begun. Look to McDonnell's appointments/re appointments to the BOV in the coming weeks. Although Sullivan had to compromise on her earlier stance that she would stay if Dragas left, the President meant it and no one could blame her. Betrayal by those who employ you is not something one can forgive, easily. Sullivan has been put through unmitigated hell these last two weeks; none of which was of her own making. Trust has been severed, hell has been paid and there is no way Dragas can remain as Rector. She must go.

Obviously, Dragas breached a fundamental sense of trust. There is no way any could possibly trust her and her decision making as it relates to the affairs of the university. McDonnell would show complete incompetency if he re appointed her, and he's not incompetent.

Dragas will be the fifth casualty in this entire affair - the two outstanding professors who resigned out of disgust, Kiernan and Kington.

Although Sullivan was rightfully reinstated, it is still a bitter sweet day for UVA.

@ Dr. Fralin

Dear Sir, I applaud your honest efforts. I watched your presentation LIVE; I understand that you were not part of bringing down the President. You served as a sponge. You served as the honestly UVA wants everyone to see. I did not like that you apologized for the Rector's shortcomings. While she did apologize, nothing will take away her personal agenda AGAINST the sitting President. What an embarrassment for the University!

We see between the lines - true compromise vs those who have compromised...It was quite evident that you were not informed about the removal of President Sullivan. No PR firm can contain such ill-action.

I hope that the intelligence of the university knows this as well, and that is quite powerful. VERY POWERFUL. I don't believe the faculty at UVA understands their value and importance; significant importance. Value in dollars is one thing; the value of the professors and instructor is invaluable. Pit the intelligence of your faculty against ANY dollar, and the faculty wins!

Seems that your gracious diplomacy should promote you to the Rector status again. I want that very much. I do not see that the current Rector can continue in this caseous degeneration of intelligent wills.

Rector Dragas failed the University of Virginia. Failed supporters. Failed donors. Failed honors. Failed all that UVA stands for. ..

The UVA's intelligence and teaching this intelligence to our children is what matters. Rector Dragas could have donated her entire wealth today in an attempt to remove this stain - her dollars will never match the intellectual equivalent of the teaching and researching professors. NOT EVER.

What did Rector Dragas gain by this fiasco? ZIP. Nada. Nothing. Zero.

There is no way out.

Please remove Dragas from the BOV permanently.

...you served as the HONESTY

Thanks are also due to Kiernan for hitting "reply all" on that priceless email, to the CD for obtaining those other jaw-dropping emails, and to Kington for resigning and thereby creating the opportunity for another meeting that could possibly garner a majority for Sullivan's reinstatement. We couldn't have done it without you!

@Helen Tansey.

Yes, Kington should have resigned. Thank you for your previous link.

The board who colluded against the president was wrong. Not fair play. Not honorable.

Helen, you must support the BOV; I see a lot written between the lines in all your postings...transparency Helen! WHO ARE YOU HELEN TANSEY?

Very excited about the turn of events!

(Side note to the Hook though: where was your proofreader on this one?)

Old Wahoo,

It's been a pleasure. I believe we, and others of our generation, stepped forward owing to our formative experience in the unique culture of the University of Virginia almost five decades ago. Mr. Jefferson was a real presence in the Academical Village and his ethos penetrated into our hearts and minds not to mention into every brick of the buildings on The Lawn. That ethos certainly radiated yesterday under sunny blue skies on a perfect summer day.

I was proud to see faculty member after faculty member speaking out and moving forward Mr. Jefferson's vision. I was proud of the Faculty Senate's vote and the stance of Staff. We are indebted to the Archivist for collecting necessary materials to permanently secure the institutional memory regarding this historic moment in the life of the University.

I am heartened to know that those young students today in 2012, in our appropriately diverse student body, have witnessed what they have witnessed and have acted. I am confident they too will fight to perpetuate Mr. Jefferson's legacy in the years to come when you and I are no more.

I'd like to hear Ms. Dragas say, "I was wrong, and I apologize" prior to her reappointment by the Governor.

If you watch the video, there's a disturbing shift from "I" to "We" that, to me, indicates a failure to realize her mistake and her role in this fiasco.

This situation has farily reeked of MBA bullstuff from the get-go. Dragass, Kington, et.al. read or skimmed a couple of articles on online education, their alpha-b!tch personalities freaked out and kicked into overdrive (We are leaders! Something must be done! Let us therefore step into a pile of shit of our own making!). So they conspired to effect a change, which of course is clear in hindsight: they made a seriously boneheaded move.

At that point, Dragass became so haughty with her power to do something -- bluff a president out of a job -- that she evidently never stopped to consider any other course of action than to push forward like a pitbull.

If this is "strategic dynamism" then the Darden School that taught Dragass is failing its students. Perhaps not so much failing them as they strive to learn a trade, but failing them in the lifelong task of being a decent human being.

To reach yesterday's decision required several members of the BoV to make a complete about-face in position. This is not only an admission of incompetence (the ouster should not have been instigated in the first place), but is also an attempt to sweep away these troubles so careers and reputations can be salvaged, and ambitions can proceed on course.

For many on the BoV, yesterday's vote was not about honor or integrity. It was about saving face.

Which is to say Dragass may eventually attempt to run for elected office. Don't ever forget the events of the last two weeks. Use your common sense in evaluating who and what she really is.

Then vote accordingly, if she is so audacious ever to run for office.

Wahoo-Wa and best regards to President Sullivan.

Thank you, Hook, for your outstanding coverage of "Oustergate." Please keep a reporter on this beat--once the spotlight is turned off, it's likely that there will be more machinations. I hope I'm wrong.

Sorry I went to bed last night before putting up the president's remarks. They're now in a little box atop the story and right here: http://www.readthehook.com/reinstatement-statements-president-sullivan

Glancing at Richmond Times Dispatch walking by, I see my father's widow (he was in the Engineering dept for 30 or so years,) made front page of the Richmond Time Dispatch (the crowd reacts photo. She's the mad hatter in the front. It looks like Dee Dee Smith and Prof. Bluestone to the left of her.

"Oustergate" is good, but I like Waldo Jaquith's phrase: "Hoo d’Etat".

Ah.....what a great day! Back to a normal routine and the usual questions....Where are you going on vacation; how are the grandkids, any word on other part time work; how's the wife; are we working overtime today; who's Virginia playing this weekend.....etc....
Yeah.....it's a good day!!
...and yes...we are delighted to have our President back in office!

I note that Helen's tour of duty ends on July 1. However, she is eligible for another 4 year term. One hopes that the Governor is wise enough NOT to renew that term. While Helen's behavior may be pardonably described as political, it perhaps is more accurately described as pathological. Of course, in the board's meeting, it was she who seconded the motion for reinstatement. Unless she was suddenly struck by a flash of enlightenment, such a sudden shift would indicate a strong instinct of self preservation while she thumbs through her Machiavelli to devise her next bit of mischief. Better that she be separated from the board and the university, and get back to selling cheap houses.

The BOV has, itself, been characterized as somewhat opaque, and this impression is supported by the near impossibility of locating them on the university's web site. Even the search box returns a "not found" result. Yet, they can be found if you work at it long enough. It is far easier to simply search Google for UVA BOV and get right to their pages, here:


From these pages, you may download a copy of their "Manual" which explains their mission, organization, duties and powers. All 124 pages. Or you can just download your copy here:


With the tempest now past, for the moment, this would be a good time for all stake holders to download their Manual and carefully read it. Did you know that a meeting of the board may be called by any 3 members, at any time, for any reason? It's right there on page 4. That means the student member and just 2 others may convene a meeting basically at will.

Knowing the Manual is a one good way for those who are governed to stay alert and be well informed with respect to those who govern them; after all, if they don't, who will?

for sweep the rotunda

i am afraid the situation is a little more complicated than what you describe. i have a feeling ms dragas knew exactly what she was doing and why and it had very little to with what is good for uva and a lot more to do with what is good for advancing a long term agenda of a network of extremely wealthy would be oligarchs who would like to privatize and take control of higher education nationally, along with everything else, and turn it to their personal, private profit while using it to implement their ideological goals in moving the country to an ever more authoritarian regimen wherein their positions as oligarchs will be more secure. i did not use the word fascist.

if you go here and look around on the various posts you will be able to connect the dots for yourself without too much trouble:


Somewhere, Gene Nichol is asking, "What about me?"

Sidney @ 12:17 am -

Let me assure you I have no relationship whatsoever with any on the board nor do I condone the early actions of any who took part in this raw grab for control. I find it extremely disturbing on so many levels.

I am simply a Virginian whose alma mater went coed solely through the sheer force of our own board although the staff, faculty, students and alumnae were opposed. It is this display of such power that forever turned me away from supporting my former school's future.

That said, I 100% concur with all who have stated Dragas must either resign or not be re appointed. Honestly, I don't know how Sullivan could possibly recover a modicum of trust in Dragas' leadership after all of this. As I stated above, Sullivan was blindsided and did nothing, absolutely nothing, to have received such crude and disrespectful treatment from her employers.

And there is no reason for Sullivan to spend a moment of time worrying or wondering if Dragas and company are planning and plotting against her again. I can't imagine what emotional and mental roller-coaster ride she's endured these last couple of weeks, and there is no reason she should have to deal with any remnants left of this betrayal.

Remove Dragas and company. Appoint faculty and give the student position voting power.

And heal...

Coaches get four years to prove themselves. Sullivan has two more to do so.

Ms. Dragas must either step down or not be reappointed to give our University its best chance to heal. Sorry to say but she abused her power of being Rector and of being a member of the BOV and she has wiped out her trust going forward. Trust is earned and I would like to see her practice regaining this....elsewhere...perhaps in her hometown, but not here, certainly, not at UVA.

"Good things that have come out of all this," said embattled UVA Rector Helen Dragas. "Values of honor, integrity and trust have been truly tested."

Remind me of Dean Sisson's remarks that Sexual Assault Boards are a "learning experience".

Dragas assaulted Sullivan and has gotten away with it. Business as usual atUVA.

@ dr kiracofe:

I harbor no doubt you are correct in asserting more sinister agendas behind the scenes. I would celebrate if these shenanigans could be dragged into the sunshine and confirmed.

For now, I was approaching the matter from a psychological perspective. I know quite a bit about the MBA program at UVa, although my graduate degree from the University comes from another department. What I do know, positively, is Darden is an incubator for little Frankenstein monsters -- not all students, but many, and in some years close to a majority.

Dragass is so clearly a product of her environment -- both educational and being born to a life of privilege that by "connecting the dots" it is fairly clear even to an armchair psychologist that the princiapl players in this debacle are delusional with their own self-importance and sense of power.

Even now, you and I have heard not so much of a whisper of remorse from this creature, no apology, no attempt to acknowledge that she grossly overstepped the bounds of basic human decency.

As you suggest: does she have a hidden socio-political agenda along with hercolleagues both known and unknown? Yes, i would seem so.

And to that I would add the question: does that make her any less of an egomaniacal a$$hole, bassed on established facts of the last two weeks? It would seem not.

And so, I reiterate my rallying cry that this woman should be precluded from ever holding elected office. The stakes are too high. And she is too low to handle them.

Best regards,

A devoted alum

I have to say, I hadn't thought about it quite this way, but commenters here are helping me see this -- yes, it was abuse. I mean, of course, but I hadn't quite seen that this is classic abusive behavior, and here we all are, like a dysfunctional family, forgiving and even, via a BOV vote and our complicit silence, "supporting" the abuser -- there is something very wrong with that. That BOV vote of support tried to flip the whole situation and make Dragas into the victim. Really twisted.

Congratulations to Dr. Sullivan! The University dodged a bullet, but the issues remain. The current internet education bubble mania will have to play itself out before sanity returns. Of greater import is the fact that a lot of highly qualified Virginia students just can't get admitted to the state's flagship school while out-of-state students with no better qualifications are admitted. What is the difference, really, between an outstanding Falls Church, Va., applicant and one from Potomac, Md.? If you said the size of the check they write to the registrar, go to the head of the class.

Then you have the slots that are allocated to the children of big donors which further reduce the likelihood of anyone getting in on merit. And there are the slots allocated to this year's "affirmative action" fad, whatever it may be.

If the University of Virginia wants the Charlottesville campus to remain small, fine, then there needs to be other locations other than the one in Wise, Va.; locations next to the population centers where research might be more readily accomplished. As there are a lot of students that would like to go to UVa there are a lot of unemployed PhDs from Virginia and other schools of like distinction that would dearly love to teach them.

Virginia also needs to take a look at the insane levels of tuition for Darden and the Law School, and reflect on how that is supporting the citizens of Virginia. The Law School graduates are having trouble getting jobs that will enable them to pay back their massive loans and Darden appears beyond hope, really, without a major overhaul in ethics.

Dr. Sullivan did not create these problems but best wishes to her in tackling them!

Somewhere in my heart, I wanted Dragas to have the courage to step up to the plate yesterday, during the BOV meeting, and say “I’m SORRY and I APOLOGIZE; therefore, as part of the healing process, I will NOT BE available for reappointment to the BOV.”

There’s a possibility that I would have forgiven her right then and there!

Silly me!

An open letter to Governor McDonnell:

Now that the groundswell of public solidarity has brought about the reinstatement of the University of Virginia’s President Teresa A. Sullivan, it is important to understand that Rector Helen Dragas’ actions remain troubling, dishonest, and possibly illegal. Accountability for her egregious mistake must include her not being reappointed to the Board of Visitors at the University of Virginia. No one who commits such a mistake should be rewarded for it even though Ms. Dragas changed her mind.

Allowing Ms. Dragas to remain on the BOV would send the message that she has gotten away with a serious wrong few of us would ever be in a position to make. She should have resigned last night after the rally on the Lawn had dispersed.

Mr. McDonnell, many will be watching you on July 1, especially the children and young people of this state who need to see that mistakes can cost a great deal. Forgiveness is a necessary goal for all of us to move forward, but forgiveness must come with accountability. Reappointing Dragas would show that lack of integrity and honesty are acceptable. The University of Virginia’s honor system is a single sanction system. Ms. Dragas much face the consequences of her actions.

@Snoop: Abusers don't acknowledge their behavior as wrong. Dragas needs to be removed from her position to show others that this type of behavior will not be tolerated, otherwise the pattern can be repeated. Pres Sullivan understand how important Honor really is as she has been a victim herself.

If an Honor Trial would expel a student for violating the rules of a Community of Trust, then Dragas too should be "expelled". Continue pressing the Governor!

Whether some conspiracy is at work with respect to a hidden agenda among board members is an open question, but Helen's very adaptive personality has, and would, accommodate most any situation which would in her mind serve her personal advancement. Evidently she is, very simply, a "broken unit." It would hardly matter if she has somehow remarkably changed into a person of character and good will; the damage was done and her continued presence would only be an obstacle to moving ahead. Their public presence, all smiles as they walk together, is a complete sham. President Sullivan plays along because she is gracious; Helen apes the behavior because she erroneously imagines this might somehow prompt renewed trust in her, so that she might fight another day. That she might think so is further evidence of her delusions. But nobody is taken in by this. Consequently, any apology by her would be disingenuous. It might be politely received, but should not lead anyone to think that she has therefore earned another term on the BOV. She really needs to go, and her best option at this point, if she wishes to maintain even a shred of integrity, it to take her leave voluntarily.

There are a few points that perhaps some could help clarify for me:

1) who were the two no votes and the one abstention at the Faculty Senate reinstatement vote?

2.) Was Kiernan asked to resign or did he do it on his own volition?

3.) What was the involvement in this affair, if any, of Strine?

4.) What are other questions about the affair we should be asking?

5.) What kind of specific information and evidence would help us have a better understanding of what took place?

6.) Did the Kiernan-Jones-Dragas-Kington cabal have someone in mind to replace Sullivan? Name? Evidence or data?

Did anyone notice the post reinstatement quotes of the threats by Anne Neal of ACTA to keep watch on UVA and Sullivan? As I mentioned before ACTA was created by Lynne Cheney, Anne Neal, Joe Lieberman etal.

Let's bear in mind that ACTA is a creation of the extreme Neoconservative right and is an inside the Beltway based pressure group/Lobby. They appointed themselves in 1995 to conduct a culture war against universities in every state of the Union. They are accountable to no one. They have published a culture war plan against higher education in Virginia. This plan may be influencing Republicans and perhaps some Democrats in the General Assembly and Governor's office.

Would anyone have data on their contributors? As I understand it contributions to non-profits must be available to the public in records filed somewhere.

Despite the fact that I cannot imagine trusting Helen Dragas, and even despite the fact that respecting a person who has systematically behaved the way she has would be nearly impossible, and despite the fact that her harping on "exciting" news she gleaned from YouTube, popular news outlets, and peculiarly impassioned email conversations with another BOV member ... despite the fact that she has over nearly half of Sullivan's tenure - that we know of - displayed a narcissistic disregard for the professional reputations and personal lives of other people who were trusting her ...

... despite all that, what makes me most uneasy about this whole "reconciliation" is the bizarre speed with which it was cobbled together into unanimity, coupled with the fact that Helen Dragas still speaks about it all as if it was something that "just happened" - as if it's just too bad that "had to have a near death experience" (which she herself, I suppose, brilliantly drafted knowing the outcome all along, right?) in order to get to the fine place we're in today ... AND WE OWE IT ALL TO HER.

Helen Dragas still believes she's done a great thing for UVa - shown them the light; coached the university through the necessary painful labor and into a new light.

This borders on being delusional. The apology and the assurances that she "can work" with someone they recruited from a solid career two years ago - about ONE year before Helen Dragas and Kington began scheming to get rid of her - are sounding brass when placed in context, particularly when in the same hour, Ms.Dragas re-iterates her belief that this was all necessary ("we had to go through a near death experience") and for the best.

And here's the thing: everyone else on the BOV actively or passively let this happen, without a word to their President.

None of that has changed; the analogy to collusion with one's abuser in the form of "forgiveness and reconciliation" is not a stretch.

This is at its beginning, not at its end.


Governor McDonnell is a hero too!!!! Or so the spin machine says.

Most places of employment are full of backstabbing, self serving swine. This time it backfired

The Wall Street Journal had an article the other day. Basically UVa was acting like an Occupy Wall Street mob against sensible business reform. Then they went on to say something about Gov. "McDonald". They were probably thinking about the McDonald's food chain where wall street eats. Didn't the governor's family start that chain, his grandfather was "Big Mac"?

@helen tansey

you speak wisely but over the heads of this very corrupt institution. Wow, a Jeffersonian concept of "equal representation". Oh no! how could you suggest such a grotesque thought. Imagine if you give enough to a Governor, whether on the left or the right you get to be appointed on the BoV, or even Rector. That's honor and integrity coupled with transparency.

But let's be honest, after a show of class Sullivan played right into this corrupt drama. Yes, it's good for an institution to show solidarity but it shouldn't be based on hypocrisy. What happened to principles? truth? honor? oh, sorry, forgot it's all PR and BS for the masses. No worries Hill & Knowlton is here to smear.....all is well again akuna mattata!

@Wisconsin Voter...you are so right!!!


i wanted to share this latest bit of fallout with those following the story.

many people have questions about the actions of Ms. Dragas, and we all want to know what was really going on and why. It now appears that the accreditor has some questions, too, about compliance. Seems like they may appoint a Special Committee to look into this.

I certainly hope that among the other problems caused by Ms. Dragas and her close associates on the board responsible for the forced resignation of President Sullivan, loss of accreditation is not one of them. Bad enough that this appears in the Chronicle of Higher Education, but it will certainly be more than just another embarrassment if this investigtion
threatens our accreditation.

Has no one looked at the Dominion Power interconnections?