Strine resigns: COO out as Sullivan begins restructuring

Michael Strine, one of the two top deputies to University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan and the one widely viewed as less loyal to her than the other one, John Simon, has resigned his post as the University's chief operating officer.

"Michael recently determined that it would be in the best interest of the University that he step down and allow me to do some necessary internal restructuring," President Sullivan said in a prepared statement.

Strine appears to be leaving a base salary of $450,000 a year, according to the UVA News Office, which revealed the resignation shortly before 1pm on Tuesday, August 7. A former treasurer of Johns Hopkins University who succeeded Leonard Sandridge at UVA, Strine served for just over 13 months, according to UVA.

Emails released in the past month as news organizations probed the inner workings of the relationships among top officials showed that Strine was a frequent correspondent with Rector Helen Dragas, who, along with then Vice-Rector Mark Kington, engineered the temporary ouster of the president.

While Kington resigned in June amid the ensuing two-weeks-plus governance crisis, Dragas– despite repeated calls from faculty and alumni for her resignation– holds the reins of power as the chief of the University's governing board. In the weeks since her own leadership crisis began, Dragas won reappointment to the board and placed her own comments into official releases including UVA's July 17 announcement that it would partner with online class provider Coursera.

Strine's behavior first came under fire when he and Simon quickly issued a joint statement calling the Board's decision to oust the president "resolute and authoritative." Within days– and most notably at a packed meeting of the Faculty Senate– Simon began publicly questioning the Board, while Strine went silent.

It turns out Strine had been in close contact with the Rector, as emails recently released at the request of the Washington Post indicate.

"Happy New Year," Strine writes Dragas in January after she suggests they meet. "Hope you and the family had a great, warm and restful time in the islands." He then tells Dragas that he enjoyed "NYC (three shows, the de Kooning exhibit, Soho shopping and some good food) before the whirlwind back to Charlottesville and Atlanta roundtrip."

Later, he crafts a "white paper" that would rewrite the governance of the university to elevate the power of the provost, who would become an officer of the Board, while the Board takes charge of "succession." Strine sends a copy to Dragas for critique.

"Doubtful I’ll criticize," gushes Dragas. "Rarely any room for that in your work product. I thought your insights today were as impressive and valuable as ever."

The emails indicate that Strine would later plan a trip to Baltimore with Dragas and Kington to meet with Johns Hopkins Medicine Dean and UVA board member Edward D. Miller. Miller, who would step down from his Hopkins post on June 30, served a widely-hailed 15-year tenure and remains on the UVA Board.

"Please let me know when you have talked to Ed Miller," Dragas implores Strine on January 24. "I know you agree that you need to have that conversation before we arrive in Baltimore so that we know the appropriate boundaries of the conversation."

UVA spokesperson Carol Wood said she had no information on such a trip or discussion beyond the text of the emails.

The emails also show that Strine's wife, Sharon Rayner Strine, who was employed for $85,000 annually as UVA's "senior director for strategic marketing and research communications liaison," was put in charge of developing a "university branding initiative" and giving direct reports to Dragas.

"We received support along with some thoughtful insight that will assist us in helping the outliers see their fit and the benefit," Mrs. Strine tells Dragas as the two discuss an upcoming meeting.

"Where would you like to meet?" asks Dragas. "We can use the BOV office in the Rotunda or I can come to yours."

Spokesperson Wood says that Mrs. Strine resigned the same day as her husband. Wood says the couple will receive $847,308 in severance, an amount that includes $42,500 for Mrs. Strine.

–developing story; rewritten at 2:35pm and 3:46pm–

–original headline: "Strine resigns: Statement from Teresa Sullivan"

–story originally contained only Sullivan's statement (linked above)

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

133 comments

I seriously doubt he is the only one that will be resigning. Dragas & Associates bit off a little more than they could chew when they attempted to stab Sullivan in the back. Let the shaking of the trees continue and see who else falls out.

Good. The back stabber can go find some other institution to run into the ground.

Strine just committed seppuku for his role in the failed Hoo d'etat like any defeated Japanese general of yesteryear. Good Luck with the job search

I'd like to see Dragas resign as well.

"The Board of Visitors' action is resolute and authoritative." were Strine's words to the Deans announcing Sullivan's ouster - well now Mr. Strine might say to President Sullivan, touche.

Let the man go with the dignity he deserves. After all he chose to leave voluntarily, unlike Rector Dragas who is going to ride it out to prove she can do whatever the hell she pleases.

Dragas has about as much support as the pro Chloramine group in town.

@Brad - you seriously think he left voluntarily? There are gaping holes in this announcement from all that was left unsaid. Bully for President Sullivan for taking this action and demonstrating that SHE is in charge of the operations of the University. Let's get clear on the scope of the Board of Visitors' responsibilities -- they are Visitors and are not tasked with day to day decision-making, no matter what Rector Dragas may think.

one way to read that statement "I focused on working with our leadership across the University" would be as follows: "I went behind my boss's back in an attempt to curry favor with Dragas and it blew up in my face".

My bet, he resigned the same way Sullivan resigned, under duress. There was no chance that Sullivan, or the Faculty could trust him after what was revealed in the emails that have been released .

Just standard corporate speak for "he was canned". When I was with AT & T we used the phrase: "resigned to pursue other interests".

"As Michael expressed to me: “In all my work here, I focused on working with our leadership across the University to help serve students, patients, faculty and communities across the Commonwealth. "

Forgive me for being so sensitive here, but what about STAFF members. As always, we are the invisible ones but don't think but for one minute that we are not watching, listening and serving you.

President Sullivan, you are obviously back in charge and let the cleaning out continue!!

Not soon enough. Hopefully Dragas will follow.

"Hoo d'etat" . . . that is absolutely priceless. St. Halsey you ROCK!

Hoo's next?

Very poor hire by sullivan. Hopefully she will do better next time.

would love to know details of the severance package, which surely was negotiated as part of this exit...

Remember, Strine and Dr. Edward Miller (BoV) have a long history together at Johns Hopkins.

Strine was recruited by Dragas. His job was to recruit Edward D. Miller, MD for the presidential post at UVA (once Dr. Sullivan stepped down). Fortunately, President Sullivan was reinstated.

Today, Dr. Miller is serving on the BoV. Dr. Miller is a problem for President Sullivan.

Dragas is to blame. Dragas needs to resign before trust will be restored at UVA.

I had understood that Helen Dragas, while eligible for another term on the BOV, was NOT eligible for a second term as Rector, so I'm confused as to why she still has that role - can someone confirm/clarify?

Her term ends December 31, 2012; but I don't know if she can serve a 2nd 4 year term.

Don't let the door hit you in the backside!

Michael Strine is a very smart man. UVA should lament the loss of his intellect and service. That he doesn't sing in the Sullivan choir is not unhealthy. Beware an institution that vets staff for a single point of view.

Strine might be very smart, but he has boundary issues and that can poison an organization. In this case his hubris got the best of him.

Karma is a bitch

It's been a very interesting summer in Charlottesville. Usually it's pretty quiet with the students gone. Not this year :-)

@reader2
You have reconstructed the details correctly, in the matter of JHU's Miller. The Wash Post had reported that Miller was the pick of Dragas and company.

Note that Miller's prior appointment to the BOV was as a non-voting member.

Kington, Strine, Dragas, What's taking Dragas so long. Write the BOV, copy your delegate/senator, ask for her resignation, ask the legislature to block her confirmation. The more public pressure the more likely she will go with the other cabal members.

My bet is that Sullivan had to say nothing to Strine. Can you imagine what it was like for him showing up to work everyday, the stares, the whispering, the lack of respect. He made his own bed and it turned out not to be so comfortable, except for the 850,000 K. Why the hell are we paying for that?

Ok, so I found this in the BOV manual, seeming to indicate that Ms Dragas term as rector should have ended last month...
SECTION 4.11 TERMS OF OFFICE AND ELECTION — The Rector and Vice Rector shall serve terms of two years, commencing 1 July of the first year and ending 30 June of the last year. At the conclusion of the Rector’s term of office, the Vice Rector shall succeed the Rector and serve for two years in that office.

Who are the "outliers" who need to "see their fit and the benefit" to whom Mrs. Strine refers? Those who might disagree with Sullivan's ouster?

Forgive my ignorance, but while I can understand that Strine is justified a severance package (while I might question the validity of the amount), why on earth does his wife deserve anything beyond a Starbucks gift certificate? Was this marketing position an appointed one? I may have missed my calling, instead of a corporate career I could have bilked higher education instead, but then apparently I have more respect for education than those who have chosen the field for employment.

Hopefully this will all clear up soon so that the executive staff get back to education rather than their proclivity for backstabbing. From my perspective on the outside, this will not happen without Dragas being dragged from her position.

Since the Vice Rector resigned, I believe she remained Rector by default.

Has anyone ever heard of a Rector who puts their name on official releases as Dragas has as reported above ?

McDonnell did the University no favors by reappointing her, and given the baggage she is carrying one has to wonder why ?

"senior director for strategic marketing and research communications liaison"

Ugh. The language betrays the intent: "strategic"!!

And "liaison" just reeks of courtesy.

There is no Helen. Only Zuul.

Looks like Strine was at least somewhat of a double agent, though more supportive of Dragas, who needs to be unconfirmed by the General Assembly when it again meets in January. Perhaps, the continuation of Dragas ally board member Edward Miller should also be examined. Beyond the particulars of this U.Va. dispute but very germaine to it, board members should be selected on the basis of merit, not as so often happens to the highest bidder.

@NancyDrew. I think McDonnell reappointed her because she did his bidding. McDonnell is an expert at milking the unholy alliance between social conservatives and Kochbrotheresque ( has a nice ring, doesn't it?) figures who will supply money and effort to fund a holy war for conservative Christians if they can get their backs scratched when it comes to fighting the EPA, the DEQ, or whatever stands in between therm and making more money. McDonnell wanted to get the "liberal" out of Liberal Arts and I suspect Dragas wanted something from McDonnell.

The Germans have a name for people like Strine, a bicycle rider. He steps on those below him as he cycles up the corporate ladder and bows to those above him. His was a sure bet, at least he thought so, as Sullivan resigned and he made his move. A worthless man with no morals, no dignity, zero class and no self respect. I have very good reason to say this. I have never gloated on any person being fired but this was very deserved!!!!!! I have nothing good to say about this person. One down 5 more to go.

"The Germans have a name for people like Strine, a bicycle rider. He steps on those below him as he cycles up the corporate ladder and bows to those above him."

We do too--it was popularized about John Bolton: "A kiss up, kick down kind of guy."

"What they do
They smile in your face
All the time they want to take your place
The back stabbers"

He's not smiling now, though

The s**t should absolutely hit the fan over the severance packages.

What self-respecting, talented, financial executive is going to want to get anywhere near the dragonlady? I predict a failed national search after the recruiters can't find anyone who wants to work at UVA under the specter of Helen blocking their decision-making.

Dragas has been defanged. The question now is can Sullivan hire someone good to replace him. The letter the faculty wrote supporting her in this debacle praised her recruitment of Stine, who was very respected at the time. Now that he turned out to be supporting her ouster people are claiming Dragas hired him. This is nonsense. Sullivan was the president when he was hired and it was a feather in her cap at the time.

@Jennifer--on this search it's the other way: who is going to want to COO under Sullivan? Strine and BOV did not have issue with Strine, Simon did. The severance package is like a pre-nup designed for this very situation. Senior administrators wouldn't leave a great job to take an uncertain one without some protection. Without that cushion he would have stayed at Hopkins.

He sat in on the meeting my daughter and I had with Pres Sullivan last fall and I immediately knew he was not interested in the truth or in the topic of campus assault, although the police report directly to him. I did not like nor trust him - and it appears, my initial instincts were spot on.

@Jennifer

There are many self-respecting, highly qualified individuals who would love to be part of the UVA team. We must let this play out. President Sullivan knows what she is doing. Rector Dragas does NOT. Dragas' dictatorship rule has brought nothing but trouble to the university. IMO.

@red - You don't know what you are talking about. Dragas recruited Strine. Look up the Washington Post article detailing Dragas plan to hire Dr. Edward Miller as UVA President. Do some research before you comment.

You are either a public relations plant for Dragas or you just have not followed any of the threads relating to Dragas.

Dragas must resign.

I agree with Girlygirl. I have always felt that McDonnell was deeply involved in this. He is a slick mover and has maneuvered this issue, and others, so that he comes out looking clean. Dragas might be a Dem. but she also maneuvers as we have clearly seen. She knows all about the power dance and how to jockey herself to get what she wants. It is time for her to stop dragging the proverbial you-know-what so people can get back to running the University. Message to Strine: when you come to a new job filling some really big shoes you better bring along a hefty dose of humility. A Leonard you are not. Hope this has been a good lesson.

...Dragas recruited "Stine"

I would love to read Clifford Kiracofe's position regarding Strine's resignation...

The resignation of Rector Dragas will increase trust among faculty & staff, students & alumni. Dragas resignation will increase donor contributions, and provide Dr. Sullivan with a supportive path for leadership. What am I missing?

I'm glad Fight Back asked about the severance package, and glad the Hook followed up by asking about it -- what a key detail that no one else has. Well done, Hawes.

I have never read that Strine was recruited by Dragas. My research shows that Sullivan handpicked Strine.

"Mr. Strine was handpicked by Ms. Sullivan in 2011. "

http://chronicle.com/article/Top-Executive-at-U-of/133431/

Sullivan Names Johns Hopkins' Michael Strine as University's Executive VP and COO

http://www.virginia.edu/uvatoday/newsRelease.php?id=15018

$450,000 a year? For what?

No question Strine was the inside stooge of the BOV. His disloyalty to the school who paid him and the person who hired him are legendary, even in hell.

On my gravestone I'd rather see something about being effective and authentic rather than loyal. I'll save that for my dog's gravestone. Also, many of you need to review the organizational chart and the silos of responsibility before you call people disloyal.

@JohnP "$450,000 a year? For what?"

Try this on for size.....$350,000 for a UVA Assistant Football Coach? For WHAT?

The secretaries and support staffs are the work horses of the departments and what do they get? A growl in the morning, a missed appreciation day, a picnic, or a box of chocolates! How about a living wage!

"On my gravestone I'd rather see something about being effective and authentic rather than loyal. I'll save that for my dog's gravestone. "

Well Strine is 0 for 3 in any event, being neither effective, authentic, or loyal. He is, however, a vast drain on UVa finances. Sold his reputation for about a million dollars. Beats 30 pieces of silver, I guess.

@lift: Strine- Perhaps he can be Chancellor of UVA Wise.

Cant be authentic or effective if you're out on your ass. I'd say getting sacked is highly ineffective. He started off by insulting Leonard Sandridge and left getting run out on a rail after backing the wrong horse-- quite the opposite of his stated role as a neutral advisor. What a year! Let's hire him.

Christ

This severance deal, exhorbitant executive salaries, the story about the BOV excessively expensive retreats are all just symptoms of corporate rot in higher education. The elites just scratching each others' backs. Why did Sullivan agree to this severance package?

Think of all the financial aid this could have been used for to bring in some deserving kids, from charlottesville who never get a chance to go bec. the expensesfor a UVA education have been passed on to the families while the Adminstrators, BOVs, governors, and legislators just lap it up in the elite life of luxury. Raise corporate and wealth taxes (not middle class taxes) in the Commonwealth and pay for public education. These elite types needa lesson in humility and reality.

If there is not a class war, may be there ought to be? The wall street types ripped off the people and now the equivalent of higher ed wall streeters are ripping off our middle class kids. We need a permanent public higher education public lobby group that keps on digging and pushing this issue state-wide, like PIRG. Don't get angry, make it fair.

@Mutt apparently your loyalty can be had by hiring and paying you. Some people are not politically fearful and are motivated by other things. There may be a little too much cynicism among some Hook readers for that to get traction.
@Ascent: if that's an insult to the individual or the institution, shame.

@lift: ah so. An erstwhile Dragasian. That is some loyalty, I'll admit. Though for you to suggest politics is/was not in play is kind of an amazing statement.

As long as you raised it, I'll say I'd love a clear artiiculation of what the Dragas gang was looking for in terms of action or achievement that caused them to manufacture this fiasco. It was not my plan in early June to spend so much time trying to understand the motivations of my alma mater's Board of visitors.

@ Nancy Drew, I have always been suspect of your views. You site contrary media to that of respected faculty at UVA. Dragas was behind hiring Strine only to bring in Miller as president of UVA. Miller would only become president if Sullivan stepped down. This did not happen. Re-read you Wa Post articles about the history and facts behind the DRAGAS - STRINE - MILLER debacle. Those are facts.

@ Nancy Drew, I have always been suspect of your views. You site contrary to any Dragas' hands in this matter, YOU ARE WRONG. Dragas was behind hiring Strine only to bring in Miller as president of UVA. Miller would only become president if Sullivan stepped down. Sullivan was reinstated and NOW stands on firm ground.

Re-read Washington Post articles about the history and facts behind the DRAGAS - STRINE - MILLER debacle. Those are facts.

Nancy Drew is part of the Public Relations Media. Please discount her observations.

@Nancy Drew - You find only posts that support your viewpoint. Why have you not referred to the Washington Post article? You must think we are stupid. You reference what you want to see and learn, not the facts.

@Nancy Drew - Dragas must resign because she is behind what you pretend to be Dr. Sullivan's decisions. YOU are wrong. Dr. Sullivan made every effort to believe that Dragas' recommendation of Strine was to benefit the UVA. Nancy Drew, please get off this page. Tender your resignation. You are a PR plant as I have stated time and again.

Dr. Sullivan is correct in removing Strine. Strine who was hand picked by Dragas. Dragas has no allegiance to UVA now that her threesome was found to be detrimental to UVA.

Get rid of Dragas.

shame on you Nancy Drew, PR at worst!

The "restructuring" of UVa's top administrative positions has begun. But it can only go so far. E-mails released under FOIA requests show that Michael Strine was complicit with the Dragas cabal to oust Teresa Sullivan. Now Strine is gone (but with a hefty financial send-off).

However, as I noted in other comments, McDonnell has strengthened his control of UVa's Board of Visitors with his recent appointments. He reappointed Dragas, which carries the implicit message that McDonnell approved of her deceit, deception, and conniving. He added uber-conservative Republican cronies Bobbie Kilberg and Frank Atkinson. And as other have cited, Edward Miller was appointed too...and this is a guy that Dragas had lined up to be interim president when Sullivan was out the door.

So Sullivan is limited in her "restructuring," although it will be interesting to see how the rest of it plays out.

What's also interesting is that released e-mails show the Albemarle county schools superintendent discussing a STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) high school on UVA land with Michael Strine. One has to assume that since the superintendent is a technology "freak," this discussion was tied into the technology emphasis pushed so hard by Helen Dragas and her cadre.

See: http://www2.dailyprogress.com/news/2012/aug/04/albemarle-eyes-possibilit...

The problem, however, is at least threefold :

1. The county school board was kept out of the discussions.

2. There is no need whatsoever for a STEM high school since there is no STEM shortage in the U.S. In fact, there is an oversupply of STEM college graduates now.

3. Technology is a valuable tool, but it is no educational panacea. Far from it. There is no solid research at all to show that technology improves learning. Moreover, the county schools superintendent presided over an expensive technology fiasco with SchoolNet, a software program that was very badly flawed. She continues to withhold from public scrutiny 268 SchoolNet-related e-mails.

The sad saga at UVa continues to unfold. One has to wonder when the light will begin to shine on the machinations that take place in the county schools.

Is anyone reading Doonsbury currently ? It's regarding "for- profit Universities" who have a horrible graduation rate and are bilking the government of billions every year for students on the "10 year plan". Hmmm....did Dragas have this in mind? It is eerie!

Dear Democracy - don't know where you get your data on STEM education, but there most definitely is a shortage of STEM programs in this country because so many of those in university programs here are foreign students. US middle and high schools are way behind the rest of the world.

Reading the emails between the two, were they shagging each other?

Interesting that the few "pro-Strine" and "pro-Dragas" posts appear to have ties to a small faction of BOV, who must be disgruntled. These few seem intent on moving this disruptive agenda forward and lament the departure of Strine. Based on the comments and responses iit is possible that Lift is the Director of the Board at UVA Wise (Aka as Clinch Valley College.). Where she graduated. Her husband who is on the BOv and Chairman of tthe Committe for UVA Wise. Is a huge financial supporter of the Gov, and a huge financial supporter of both UVA Wise and UVA. The response to the earlier post with the word "shame" is typical SW VA (shame on you) The power that is allowing Dragas to stay steady is likely related to this power couple. Perhaps WaPo or Hook ought to to look into this couple- not just the Darden School angle or John Tudor Jones.

Plot to have the president fired, then walk away with $847,000. No raises for UVa employees in four years. He needed to go. But with that kind of cash? Further erodes morale.

UVA has become dramatically more insular in the last months. This is not a good sign. What is evident here is the emergence of a personality cult for Sullivan. She who can do no wrong and God help anyone who criticizes her. I suspect that these comments are largely made by females hiding behind their stage names, and a majority are faculty who want to have their puppet to control hereafter. Just drive out all vestige of objectivity and you have it made.

Nancy Drew you don't have a very good understanding about how the world works. Where do you work? What did you do before you became an expert on everything in the universe? Why do you feel the need to comment on every single post on here?

In reading this article and all the previous posts, it appears that none of the posters understand the concept of a contract. I am no supporter of Strine, but I am certain that he had a legally reviewed contract with UVA. The only reason that he is getting the severance package is that he was terminated. It would be hard to believe that a person who resigns voluntarily would receive a severance package.

With regard to his wife, clearly, a job was created for her. Not as unusual as one might think. Jobs for spouses of senior management employees are created all the time by the corporate world. Generally the created position is with a different company, but often a company where the head of the corporation has a relationship. This practice is usually done with a bit more thought than apparently went into Mrs. Strine's hiring.

If I were Dr. Sullivan, I'd look long and hard at splitting this position into a COO for each of the Universities main operations. A COO for the medical side and a COO for the academic side. That change alone might make this a easier to hire for job. There will be a line of people outside Madison Hall to apply for this position or positions.

Today's Washington Post strongly suggested a close personal relationship between Strine and Dragas Under the best of circumstances, this is not the way to run a business. Inviting the Strines for Thanksgiving dinner at Dragas' house appears to be a bit cozier than appropriate. However, do a little digging and you will find senior management employees at UVA with many questionable relationships with members of the BOV. Things like use of vacation homes, inside information about investments, expensive gifts and many other perks are as normal as heat in the summer in Cville.

Well, several conclusions: Dragas needs to go, the Virginia Legislature needs to veto her appointment, the governor needs to have his political career terminated as soon as his current term is over, a search committee and a restrucctiong composed of faculty, staff, community members and students needs to have a very transparent process, both for restructuring and hiring, an honest broker search consultant, not one of the good old boy firms, needs to be hired and that person needs to have extensive input from the entire university community.

UVA only heals when the players in this mess go away. To President Sullivan, a wish for the greatest possible success as you move UVA forward and continue to exercise the outstanding judgment and leadership you have shown since coming to Cville.

I like the "Hoo d'etat" statement as well. Note to Larry Sabato, use this term in all your communications going forward. It could be the best political phrase of the year.

"In reading this article and all the previous posts, it appears that none of the posters understand the concept of a contract."

Oh, I think we do understand the concept of a contract. We also understand the concept of nepotism, as when Strine's wife was hired for a make-work position. Or when Sullivan's husband was hired by the UVa Law School for that matter. While I support Sullivan, it really is time to stop wasting the taxpayer's and donor's money on nonsense.

My severance package from UVA was lunch from a Chinese restaurant.

@bosco osgood. There is not a personality cult for President Sullivan. She has support of the faculty because she is respectful to them. Strine not so much. Long live FOIA. Strine needs to find himself a nice private institution where FOIA is not in play. Carol Wood clearly stated in the DP that only the President officially reports to the Board. Obviously Dragas has the nod of the Governor or else he would not be willing to endure the sustained embarrassment she showers on the University. Those sycophant e-mails with Strine were too much.

@ George.

Sullivan's husband, Douglas Laycock, was a hiring coup for the School of Law. Should President Sullivan have stepped down the school would have lost one of its most eminent faculty members.

http://www.law.virginia.edu/lawweb/faculty.nsf/FHPbI/2210483

Douglas Laycock

Robert E. Scott Distinguished Professor of Law
Horace W. Goldsmith Research Professor of Law
Professor of Religious Studies
J.D., University of Chicago Law School, 1973
B.A., Michigan State University, 1970

Douglas Laycock is one of the nation's leading authorities on the law of remedies and also on the law of religious liberty.

Before joining Virginia's faculty in 2010, Laycock served as the Yale Kamisar Collegiate Professor of Law at the University of Michigan Law School. Prior to that he taught for 25 years at the University of Texas and for five years at the University of Chicago.

Laycock has testified frequently before Congress and has argued many cases in the courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court. He is the author of the leading casebook Modern American Remedies; the award-winning monograph The Death of the Irreparable Injury Rule; and many articles in the leading law reviews. He has co-edited a collection of essays, Same-Sex Marriage and Religious Liberty, and he recently published Religious Liberty, Volume I: Overviews and History, and Volume II: The Free Exercise Clause. These two volumes are the first half of a four-volume collection of his many writings on religious liberty.

Laycock is vice president of the American Law Institute, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the 2009 winner of the National First Freedom Award from the Council on America's First Freedom.

He earned his B.A. from Michigan State University and his J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School.

Scholarship Profile: "A Towering Figure" (Virginia Journal 2011)

There are a number of law schools in the area where Mr. Sullivan could teach. Northern Virginia, DC, and Maryland have too many to count. Again, I am very glad Sullivan was retained but their household was receiving three very high-level taxpayer-funded positions: the UVa presidency, her teaching salary, and his law school position. To me it looks inappropriate.

@George, with regards to your opinion about Professor Laycock, I think you're simply wrong. Yes, there may be other law schools, but why would UVA want to pass up on a *truly* eminent legal scholar? In no way is it inappropriate. UVA was able to recruit and hire Theresa Sullivan and George Laycock? That's about as good a hire as they come.

@ Reader52: No need for vitriol against Nancy Drew. If there is one thing that is true it's that she has been resolute in following this story, sitting on the steps of the Rotunda till 3am reporting back to all of us. This is a forum for genuine discussion and there's not need to be hostile to each other. If you think she overlooked something in the Post or if you don't agree, just say so politely. No need to be aggressive in these posts. Have a good day.

@ Webster52: Ahhh, I know what you mean. Busted my butt for 23 years and what did I get? A photo album for God's sake. Too many unwarranted big buck severance packages going around UVA.

847,000 plus the BOV retreat costs = how many scholarships? = How many raises for the living wage campaign?

This BS games of the elites running UVa has to end. There needs to be a review of every salary from the top to the bottom and some significant changes have to occur. Sullivan has an opportunity to change the culture of UVA. I hope she does so, otherwise we are all just letting the elites rearrange the chairs on the deck of the titanic and listening to a fine but distracting tune by Nero.

The backstabbers (Strine, Kington, Dragas, Miller) have to go, but the whole system itself, beyond the personalities, needs a clean up especially at the top.

!!~: there seems to room in here for only one view, all others are dismissed as PR flaks, trolls, or presumed to be someone identifiable.
Citizens Party: your comment echoes the very lament of the BOV with regard to the President. She's the elite running the school, let's hope that she's now inspired to bring some change. No more status quo.

Is there evidence that Miller was a backstabber ? The only thing I've read
is that he refused Dragas's request to be Interim Prez .

@Lift,

My point exactly. I certainly supported Sullivan's reinstatement. I also hope this episode is a springboard for many internal changes that break elitist, top-down control of the University. From the bullying case of Kevin Morrissey, to the Living Wage Campaing, to the recognition of the Uiversity's role in Salvery and making changes pursuant to that recognition.

I like President Sullivan but let's move off the personality issues and look at more faculty shared governance, a greater role and voice for the Staff and Students. The students, fauclty, staff, alums, and citizens were the ones who took to the streeets and letter writing campaigns to get Sullivan back, there is power there, let's harness that power to make internal changes in the culture of UVA.

So while we are busy working for Dragas' resigination/nonreappointment, reforming the BOV selection process, and the representation on the BOV, let's also work for internal changes at UVA that the President should be held accountable for. Let's democtratize UVA.

Will some *please* puzzle me this:

Why did Sharon Strine, Michael Strine's wife, receive a severance of six months' salary, or $42,500?

Michael received his because of his contract--we get that--but why did Sharon receive a severance?

She did not have a contract. There should have been no severance made available to her. She voluntarily resigned and we can safely assume that she did so without being forced.

Because she had no contract and because this was not a forced resignation for her (but instead for her husband), why was she given this severance?

Has anyone here ever heard of someone receiving a severance because their spouse did, or because their spouse was forced to resign?

Someone please help me out with this.

It's been kind of funny to read about the validity of contracts and buy outs. But when it happens with a Union, it's all considered dirty and a bailout and some sort of socialist entitlement.

Please just hire a competent person from within or, at a minimum, someone with ties to The University.

"many of you need to review the organizational chart and the silos of responsibility before you call people disloyal"

Please enlighten us -- Strine was hired by and reported to Sullivan; just what silo was his loyalty supposed to be housed in?

One should be dedicated to institutional excellence, not to a superior. Otherwise you have an organization full of Yes men/women.

@Seeking Veritas - I suppose I'll treat your message as a serious question, though to those of us who've worked in large companies it's really not.
Hiring couples as a package deal is common in Universities, or companies for that matter, that are out in the middle of nowhere. Charlottesville is a nice place, but there's no easily obtainable, meaningful employment outside the one large employer for a spouse. So, if you want the "star" you have to create a job for the spouse. It's a package deal. Ms Sullivan wasn't coming to Charlottesville without a meaningful job for her spouse.
The firing is the same as the hiring. Since the article is silent regarding Ms. Strine's contract or lack thereof, I don't know whether she had one or not. Even if she didn't, it's in the University's best interest to get her out the door as soon as possible, otherwise she might hang around for a few months, collect a paycheck and be a distraction while her spouse finds another job. Six month's severance really isn't that big a deal to remove a potential sore spot. It also lets future candidates for top jobs know that the University has a bit of class, It says that if you have a disagreement, the U isn't going to toss your spouse out on his/her butt with a "better luck next time".
Corporations do the same thing when they transfer one of a couple overseas or to smaller towns in the US. Couples come and go together, and despite the disagreements, you treat them with as much respect on the way out as you did on the way in.

Kiernan, Kington, Strine... Dragas.

Which one is not like the others ?

"One should be dedicated to institutional excellence, not to a superior. Otherwise you have an organization full of Yes men/women."

That's fine and all, but it really is not at all what comes across from your previous 'silo' comment.

Granted $847,000 is an obscene severance package for Mike and his cougar but in the long run, I suspect it was "cheaper than keeping" him. Now if Helen can muster any remnant of honor to step down or the BOV will have the constitution to pressure same OR the General Assembly will not DragAss in January and refuse to support her reappointment to the BOV by Governor McDonnell, UVa can rise above the fiasco and get back to the "business" of teaching, research and service. Thank goodness Leonard Sandriidge is returning as an advisor to the Board to keep them accurately informed, accountable and hopefully more honest and transparent despite the corrupt external influences that will no doubt continue to attempt to hijack the integrity of our beloved University. UVa is a unique and recognized leader in higher education both before and beyond our lifespans and President Sullivan has demonstrated why she is the right leader, right now. Kudos also to Delegates Toscano and Deeds for introducing legislation in Richmond to thwart and protect against a questionable BOV appointment and governance process to lay the groundwork for protecting UVa's future. WAHOOWA!

Michael I referred to a silo of responsibility, not loyalty, you did. His responsibility silo included reports to BOV with regard to budget.

P.S. Whom will the BOV now award residence at the UVa-owned mansion 'Sunnyside'?

You get a golden parachute if you are let go, fired without cause,not if you elect to resign. It looks like he came to Sullivan and said what's it worth to you to have me quit?

He apparently, from the looks of the emails, did things that were backhanded and were cause for termination.

Why we sit and take a 3/4 million payout for immoral behavior is beyond me. Why did Sullivan agree to this?

Agree with Citizen Party. You can be a backstabber and still make nearly a million. Sucks to be a hardworking smart person.

Dragas must resign.

Thank you Mula Banda for the link to the Strines' resignation letter. Dragas did not sign the letter of resignation. Why did Dr. Sullivan have to sign for her? If Dragas is too busy for this extraordinary procedure; she is too busy to be the rector. Dragas' behaviors display nothing but incompetence.

Why prolong this ordeal? Get rid of Dragas and let the president do her job.

In June, 2012, Dragas had the authority to oust the president of UVA via a quorum. And, today, Dr. Sullivan must sign on Dragas' behalf?

There 'appears' to be a proper order of authority in charge of the UVA. President Sullivan holds the cards and Dragas is now an ineffective BoV rector.

What is going on?

I think this was a little more than Strine resigning under duress. He was summarily kicked to the curb. I was relieved when I heard the news, but I think the current balance of power is troubling. Dragas is still present. And there is a disproportionate level of affection for Sullivan. Let's not forget that Yoke San Reynold's (retired) position is still open. On a positive note, Simon appears to have the trust of most of the faculty. Collette Sheehy seems to be doing her usual yeoman's work in quiet fashion.

I work at UVa and administrators frequently refer to Dragas's 10 points as the jumping off point for taking action and setting goals at UVa. Who is the president? There is no vision. People are fatigued. The quiet presence of Sheehy and focus of Simon are not enough to build confidence. I think many of us are waiting for President Sullivan to bring it, i.e. force Dragas out. Maybe Strine was Sullivan's version of throwing down the gauntlet. I hope so. It's all so enervating . . . borderline demoralizing.

@Who'sAHoo - the Strines quit because they faced being FIRED with nothing, no severance, absolutely nothing. There was no duress. Duress implies something an illegal process. That is clearly not the case.

Strine should have resigned when the other kingpins quit. The incompetence of the BoV is quite telling. Dragas is the person who should resign.

I find it interesting that important people involved in the coup against Sullivan are resigning 'for the good of the university', and yet Dragas--the head of the conspiracy--refuses to do the same. Is Dragas the only member of this coup who does NOT care about the university? Her continued presence on the Board makes a mockery of the university and Mr. Jefferson's intentions for education.

All intelligent commentators--even those who originally supported the removal of Sullivan--have recognized that Dragas can only do more harm than good at this point, so why doesn't she resign? Is her ego more important than the well being of the university?

Perhaps it will take the students booing her off the stage in the fall in order for her to get the message.

@Who'sAHoo - you are completely wrong about Strine resigning under duress. Duress implies an illegal action by one or both parties. If duress was involved, UVA could be subject to legal action. The Strine couple resigned because they had no future with the university after they were found to be part of the small group attempting to force President Sullivan's resignation. Get over it. Dr. Sullivan is in charge. Enough said.

@ MaryL -- UVA agreements are nornally signed by University officials such as the president. Nothing unusual there.

Interesting that COBRA benefits extend for 18 months. Does Michael plan to remain unemployed?

@Coriander - understood; however the signature line was specifically for Rector Dragas' signature (as I read the document). Dr. Sullivan signed on her behalf.

@UVA Alumnus - You are correct. Dragas will not resign. She has been directed by Governor McDonnell not to resign under ANY circumstance. Rector Dragas will confirm this statement. These are facts.

If anyone can prove me wrong about Dragas, please do so. Otherwise get off the feed. Serious allegations against Dragas and the UVA reputation are at stake. Dragas has been supportive of the demise of Dr. Sullivan. Dragas has been supportive of the demise of Dr. and Mrs. Strine. Dragas is the goat of all evil at the UVA but she still has a voice. Who is supporting Dragas publicly, besides Governor McDonnell? Enough said by myself and other posts.

Let's get on with unifying the University as opposed to speculation regarding anything Dragas has had a hand in...right?

When is enough actually enough?

I believe the answer is "enough is enough; particularly when all parties have exhausted their resources"...which means the UVA has a lot more to spend to defend Dragas' position(s) - which are completely ludicrous due to the fact that President Sullivan had actually complied with ALL of Dragas' recs...sheesh!

Do(es) Dragas and McDonnell really believe the UVA faculty is that stupid? Come on! Dragas is not going to win unless this is some covert McDonnell process. What is happening to higher education?

Should we look to the communistic rule of China's education format and forgo all that the USA has stood for in the past few hundred years; maybe so?

China educates 50 students per educator (no aids whatsoever) in lower and middle school. Only the top 1, 2 and 3 percent succeed & progress to the high school and college level. And so on ...USA primary education is so screwed up that by the time college arrives, parents are thought to believe...fill in the blanks. The USA education system is horrendous and not worth my time...

Wow. It is rare to see so much venom squirted by females. Collectively, this display of unmitigated hatred paints you and the University in the most off-putting way. What competent person (male, or female) will want to attend this school or try to govern it, when such repressed nastiness is apparently the norm.

@ andy:

There most certainly is no STEM shortage in the U.S.

Try reading the Lowell and Salzman study:

http://www.urban.org/publications/411562.html

Or try reading Beryl Benderly's piece in the Columbia Journalism Review:

http://www.cjr.org/reports/what_scientist_shortage.php?page=all

Here's an excerpt:

"Leading experts on the STEM workforce, including Richard Freeman of Harvard, Michael Teitelbaum of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Paula Stephan of Georgia State University, Hal Salzman of Rutgers, Lindsay Lowell of Georgetown, and Norman Matloff of the University of California-Davis, have said for years that the US produces ample numbers of excellent science students. In fact, according to the National Science Board’s authoritative publication Science and Engineering Indicators 2008, the country turns out three times as many STEM degrees as the economy can absorb into jobs related to their majors."

And a RAND study of potential STEM shortages in the federal government cound this:

"there is little evidence of such shortages in the past decade or on the horizon. Economic indicators, notably the low levels of unemployment and rising wages that one would expect to accompany shortages, have failed to materialize. Likewise, “underemployment patterns” — for example, indications of STEM workers involuntarily working out of their fields — suggest that underemployment of STEM workers is relatively high compared with that for non-STEM workers. Engineering is the one exception — underemployment in this field appears to have been lower than that for non-STEM workers. These indicators suggest neither an inadequate supply of STEM workers for the nation’s current needs nor shortages in the near future."

So, since there is no STEM shortage, why would the county schols superintendent be discussing a restricted-population STEM high school with Michael Strine? And how might that discussion factor into the technology push at UVa by Helen Dragas and her cronies on the Board of
Visitors? (and why does the county superintendent continue to withhold 268 e-mails about SchoolNet, the expensive and badly-flawed software technology that was supposed to "remake" instruction?)

The World Economic Forum ranks the United States 52nd in the quality of mathematics and science education, and 5th (and declining) in overall global competitiveness
The United States ranks 27th in developed nations in the proportion of college students receiving undergraduate degrees in science or engineering
There are more foreign students studying in U.S. graduate schools than the number of U.S. students and over 2/3 of the engineers who receive Ph.D.’s from United States universities are not United States citizens

I have no reason to believe that Dragas would resign now. Her narcissism seems to be fully functional and my guess is that she believes that in the end, what she did was good for the university, she has the support of the board and the university community(and the governor) and that it would hurt the university for her to resign. Rather than pr fluff, I bet she actually believes that her ten talking points, hastily compiled by a pr firm, are a path for the future of the university and that she is the only one with the courage to lead. As preposterous as this sounds, if she believes it, and her actions and statements seem to back that up--why would she even consider resigning.

Next semester the faculty should go on strike until she resigns.

God, I wish they would go on strike. Then at least, we would have a chance to fire these incompetents.

Dragas is not going to resign on her own. She might if there is a flood of emails and letters to the Gov, BOV and legislators all at the same time. In addition, legislators are looking into reform legislation and they have a shot at not conforming her. We shouldbe focused on that decision point in January as well. Does anyone know of an online petition to that effect?

When citizens, fauclty,staff, students, alums all worked together there were results. I wish dragas would resign but I don't think my wishes are enough. I think there are some Facebook pages aimed toward these types of outcomes. It worked before...

@ Andy - that's because it's elitist to get an education at a higher university in subjects like that, dangerously liberal. You might challenge the right wing think tank and their corporate sponsors. It's also really expensive and no one wants to pay you. The foreigners get it paid for by their governments and then can work for half the price of an American.

There are few college and university jobs for the newly-minted STEM PhDs and jobs in industry are hard to come by especially for someone with no prior industry experience. The situation is immeasurably worse for the Liberal Arts and Humanities graduate students upon graduation. And the job search for new lawyers looks like something out of "The Grapes of Wrath". Architects can't buy a job with bags of money. In short the 1 per centers have shipped jobs, along with our kids and grandkids futures, offshore. Obama sits by and let's it happen and Romney was an actual participant in making it happen

The only college majors with much hope of gainful employment would be some kinds of engineering, business, finance and some medical fields. Not necessarily well-rounded graduates but at least employed ones.

0

Thankfully, 14 elite alumni have sent a letter demanding answers as to the reasoning behind the decision to oust President Sullivan, and then abruptly reinstate her.

Nicely done alumni.

We hope your letter will be answered with integrity.

I think the Alum letter is a good sign thatr more public pressure now might have an effect. Write/email the Gov/BOV/Legislator today and ask them to 1)demand Dragas' resgination/or vote of no confidence for the reappointment in January, ask for a full investigation and report of the epsisode, ask for a reform of the BOV appointment process. If there is a flood, who knows maybe she will resign.

Why, after 13 months on the job, is former UVA chief operating officer Michael Strine being awarded $850,000 in severance? I don't think he should get more than 30 days pay. There is something very wrong with the Board and the President of UVA. It' too easy to give away "other people's money" to avoid unpleasantness. As state support of education continues to be reduced, the University has better uses for state, donor and tuition monies.

Ahhh, the wonderful phrase comes to mind: "Be careful for what you wish. You may get it."

And none of you female faculty members and students have even mentioned much less discussed the alleged failings which caused the initial vote to remove her. You don't talk about it because this is really aggressive, nasty sexism, isn't it?

Maybe it's off topic but Sunday is always a good day to reflect on the work week.

Two recent encounters shared with me……

"A few weeks ago, a TOP administrator walked down the hall of the Medical Center. Head down, lips tight and eyes focused on his high dollar shoes. I smiled and said, “ good morning” and continued to mop the floor. I heard NOTHING".

"Recently, President Sullivan, with that big smile of hers, noticed that I was removing fingerprints off the door.
She said, “Good morning. The place is looking great! Thank you”.

It’s the little things, my friends.

Two quotes come to mind:

“You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.” - James D. Miles

“Though my work may be menial, though my contribution may be small, I can perform it with dignity and offer it with unselfishness. My talents may not be great, but I can use them to bless the lives of others. The goodness of the world in which we live is the accumulated goodness of many small and seemingly inconsequential acts.” – Gordon B. Hinckley

I believe the first quote was taken from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. I guess somethings are timeless and don't change, more specifically the human character!

The reason the PR about Strine lacks credibility is because everyone knows it is spin. It's expected and accepted as normal. Clearly it's untrue and UVA indulges in lying to the community and the public.

If one resigns, quote " has resigned his post as the University's chief operating officer" one does not get severance/compensation. I have yet to see a contract that compensates any officer in an amount of $850,000.00 upon resignation, unless it is a capital distribution. So this statement is a bold face lie. He must have been asked to resign (modern day terminology for fired) with the provision of the $850k as the "hush" money as he must have signed a non-disclosure agreement.

Since Sullivan is the President she must have approved this PR (LIE). Why is there a need to lie? Why not just say we don't feel Strine is the right person to continue in this position. Why lie? Actually, Dragas' (hate to defend her) PR when Sullivan resigned was more truthful and yet everyone was outraged at the lack of transparency in her case! Is there a double standard here because we collectively perceive Strine as being disloyal? Since we have no clue what goes on behind closed doors at UVA, despite accessing some emails (we have not heard any of the private conversations between the conspiring parties, the BoV, the Governor etc.) we really don't know who is truly looking after the interests of the institution. Right or wrong as Winston Churchill once said "... In order to protect the truth, you would need to surround it with lies". This should be UVA's overt jingle.

@non-smoker August 12th, 2012 429pm

Darn it, I hate it when that happens! Apparently, that quote was from several sources. My mistake!
You are correct, the quote is timeless......and I loved it!

http://quoteinvestigator.com

"Quote Investigator: QI agrees that these two expressions and several others can be grouped together because they are semantically closely aligned. Interestingly, members of this set have been employed by (or attributed to) a wide variety of individuals including: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Samuel Johnson, Ann Landers, Abigail Van Buren, Malcolm Forbes, James D. Miles, and Dan Reeves.
The earliest instance of this saying that QI has located appeared in the popular newspaper column of Earl Wilson. He credited the well-known magazine publisher Malcolm Forbes in 1972".

Just listened to the Penn State 32 member voice PBS broadcast of the BOT non commitment to NCAA Sanctions (at best). Where were these back up systems and lawyers for the children who were raped by Sandusky and now a Trustee is implicated as of 8/12/2012 in rape charges? Where were all these questions from the BOT when children were raped? None could be found. Everyone attempted to serve the University reputation. Is this what to expect from UVA? I guess so.

What losers! They did not once comment upon the molestation of children, and they did not once say they were sorry.

I see correlations with Penn State and UVA.

UVA has an opportunity to correct itself from the past mistakes of its BoV, in attempting to oust its' President. Please learn. UVA is a higher ed institution correct?

Why haven't the people who caused the 2008 economic meltdown been put in jail? The entire Board of Trustees at Penn State should be indicted on criminal charges, negligence, or something. Why is it that the people at the top get to operate under different rules than the rest of us? Dragas and the other BOVs involved should resign or be forced to resign.

Its time for Sullivan to get tough or Citizens to demand accountability.

@ Andy........so, what's your point?

The fact is that there is no STEM shortage.

By the way, the World Economic Forum makes clear why the U.S. has dropped in economic competitiveness rankings, and it has absolutely nothing to do with public education in general, or math and science education in particular. The main reasons are poor business ethics, weak auditing and reporting standards, high deficits, and unsustainable levels of public debt.

And guess what? The same conservative and corporate interests that push more tax cuts and policies that undermine the American standard of living are also the same ones that peddle the STEM myth, blame public education for America's economic problems, and make every effort to privatize public education for their own profit.

@UVA Invisible - I stand corrected. I love the quote too. I wish there were more of us.

I don't know what the United Stated K-12 problem is regarding education and standards. We are ranked among the top 25.

I talked with an engineer friend who has visited 22 countries. He attended 3rd grade classes in China and Zimbabwe, and several others. Interesting that he noticed all students could speak English. China has classrooms of 50 students and one educator, no special ed allowed in these classes. Zimbabwe, the students show up for athletics and secondarily for their education. These students from other countries learned. It was their way to a better life and school in America. We are revered in foreign countries, yet, slammed in America. Why?

My point is that standards are required in all countries. Global countries with which we compete. We don't compete in K-12 with these countries. We begin to compete at the university level, and that is why the majority of graduate students at our USA universities are from foreign countries. We do not focus on k-12. We teach to tests. We pretend that all is well in K-12 and it is NOT. We believe in this faulty program entitled "No child left behind". That is exactly what the program does - leaves children behind.

?

Our future at UVA relies on foreign grad students if we don't address the K-12 problem. It is a problem.