Dragas to Simon: 'Quite an unhelpful comment'
Coping with the earliest suggestions that her action was not resonating quite the way she might have hoped, University of Virginia Rector Helen Dragas lashed out at the provost, John Simon, after he informed her that he'd given an interview to the Washington Post which quoted him calling the ousted president, Teresa Sullivan, "one of the stars" in higher education.
"Yes, quite an unhelpful comment," Dragas tells Simon in an email sent at 10:12pm on June 11, just a little over a day after Dragas and two fellow UVA Board of Visitors members, including the now-resigned Mark Kington, accepted Sullivan's forced resignation.
"Helen, What are you referring to?" then asks Simon, who was also quoted in the Post story saying, “We had all kinds of projects in the works, things we were trying to do to advance the university.”
The emails were released following a Freedom of Information request by the Hook. They show Dragas trying to stanch what became an irresistible tide of outrage that included numerous protests and which culminated in the unanimous reinstatement of Sullivan June 26.
The emails show Dragas refusing to attend an open meeting at the Darden School– the graduate business program that awarded MBAs to both Dragas and Kington– if press attend. And she attempts to assuage upset Darden faculty members after the Darden Foundation chair, Peter Kiernan, seemed– via his infamous "Trust me, Helen has things well in hand" email– to both relish and participate in Sullivan's ouster.
"Peter played absolutely no role in any BOV decisions regarding the president," Dragas writes in a June 14 email to Darden Dean Robert Bruner. "My conversations with Peter centered around service to the university through application of his experience and skill in strategic thinking and complex problem-solving."
Kiernan resigned that same afternoon.
The released messages were sent in fulfillment of a request for emails connecting Dragas or Kington to UVA donors Paul Tudor Jones, Thomas Farrell, and William Goodwin. No emails to Goodwin were produced, and the ones with Jones– whom the Hook has identified as a pre-ouster confrere– dealt only with avoiding potential conflicts in asset management.
As for Farrell– the former UVA rector who makes $14 million a year running Dominion Virginia Power (and who helps transfer about $200,000 a year into the pockets of both Dragas and Kington via their service on his board)– the only email released by him has him warning the pair that a hunger strike waged in February to support higher wages for UVA staff might produce 10,000 emails.
"You should get a block put on," writes Farrell, "because they are sure to come!"
The UVA official fulfilling the Hook's request indicated that "several" emails that met the specifications of the request were withheld under the statutory exemptions allowing the University to conceal certain personnel, fundraising, and legal matters.Attached Documents:This story is a part of the The ousting of a president special.Read more on: Helen Dragas