Selfless servant: Dragas got a raw deal

Having been a neutral observer to the “Sullivan Spectacle,” I would ask objective parties to note the following, all of which have been reported individually, but not collectively:

•The Board of Visitors (BOV ) has the unquestioned, statutory authority to hire and fire the President of UVA. 
•The BOV has the fiduciary duty to fire a president whose poor performance is detrimental to the University.
•President Sullivan was reluctant to leave the cozy confines of UVA to fundraise (fundraising constituting 70 percent of every major college president’s job).
•President Sullivan was not adequately implementing the agreed-to strategic plan; notably, failing to get the online learning operational. It should also be noted: only eight percent of UVA’s budget comes from the state; Liberty University earned $100 million last year from their online learning; the BOV’s job is to make sure revenue equals expenses; and, the faculty understandably is not a fan of internet learning, which it views as detrimental to the UVA on-campus brand.
•Rector Dragas individually polled members of the BOV and, according to various reports, had a consensus of the BOV to fire Sullivan for poor job performance. It's extremely unlikely Dragas would have taken this step without such a consensus. If she had, the BOV would have naturally moved to replace her, which they didn’t.
•Dragas gave Sullivan the courtesy of choosing between resigning or a public and open-air firing and Sullivan chose to resign instead of having her failings aired in a public forum.
•Dragas stood to gain nothing from the firing of Sullivan; but to the contrary, knew she would be publicly vilified for the dismissal yet carried on believing it was in the best interest of the University to have a new and better president.

It seems to this neutral observer with no dog in the fight that the University needs more honest, selfless servants like Helen Dragas.

Don Woodsmall
Charlottesville





73 comments

Very nice apologia, but there's something odd with this part: "Rector Dragas individually polled members of the BOV and, according to various reports, had a consensus of the BOV to fire Sullivan for poor job performance. It's extremely unlikely Dragas would have taken this step without such a consensus. If she had, the BOV would have naturally moved to replace her, which they didn’t." First, the use of the phrase "according to various reports", which is less than hearesay. Second, the statement that it was "extremely unlikely" Dragas would have done what she did without consensus - again pretty weak. And finally, it's not the BOV's job to remove the Rector.
So, nice PR for Ms. Dragas, but I don't believe a word of it.

Very nice apologia, but there's something odd with this part: "Rector Dragas individually polled members of the BOV and, according to various reports, had a consensus of the BOV to fire Sullivan for poor job performance. It's extremely unlikely Dragas would have taken this step without such a consensus. If she had, the BOV would have naturally moved to replace her, which they didn’t." First, the use of the phrase "according to various reports", which is less than hearesay. Second, the statement that it was "extremely unlikely" Dragas would have done what she did without consensus - again is the author inside her head? And finally, it's not the BOV's job to remove the Rector.

Dear Mr. Woodsmall: I encourage to you review the publicly available information as you are misinformed.
http://www.virginia.edu/keyissues/presidential-transition/
It will demonstrate the following:
1. The BoV had the statutory authority only with a vote of 2/3 of the members of the board. That statutory requirement was not met.
2. The BoV specifically asked Dr. Sullivan not to prepare a strategic plan, but she did so of her own accord in May 2012 which Dragas did not share with the rest of the board - so there was no "agreed upon plan."
3. The Code of Virginia which you cite as well as the BoV Manual has very specific steps required to "fire a president." Telephone tag is not among them. Further BoV members have stated publicly stated Dragas mislead them about how much "consensus" she had.
4. Online learning was in progress and contraction negotiations were being finalized when Dragas implemented her coup.
5. Dragas is on a power trip with all the politicians in her pocket, she wants to be Lt. Governor some day. She is using UVa as a stepping stone.
While I appreciate your perspective, it is woefully devoid of facts.

Why is it that the hired PR guns continue to place comments on the Hook site?

Everybody in this commonwealth has a dog in this fight. This unfortunate incident has exposed serious flaws in the appointment process for board members at the State of Virginia colleges and universities. When money is the motivator for the appointment, it is likely be a bad selection. When alumni are appointed in the numbers that they are on the UVa BOV, it is a predetermined outcome that they will overplay their roles. As a former college and university and independent school senior administrator, my experience with alumni and parents of current students on boards of trustees has never been good. There is simply too much self interest. Alumni from Darden are also likely to apply business principles to an academic model and that just doesn't work. The appointment process should be removed from the governor's office and placed in the hands of an independent commission. Let's get the politics out of the colleges and universities of the Commonwealth. And let's get Dragas out of the BOV at UVa.

Mr. Woodsmall is either misinformed or a propagandist for Helen Dragas.

One aspect that is not debatable is that, when Dragas presented her hand to Sullivan, after a couple days of deliberation with her law professor husband, Sullivan did choose to fold. I've never understood that decision, but must assume that in advance of the unusual public outcry by the community, Sullivan informed herself (again, with super-in-house legal counsel) and decided that she was going to lose on all fronts (process and merits) if she put up a fight. The only thing that got her job back, really, was the "movement," which focused more on the lack of transparency by the Dragas-led BOV (meaning it was not just Dragas' fault, but the WHOLE board's) and on the absence of non-required consultation with faculty and staff, instead of any violation of any actually applicable requirements. Even the accreditors, after all, were not able to cite violations of UVA requirements in its sanction, but instead pointed out inconsistencies between UVA's requirements and those that the accreditors believe should govern any school that receives accreditation.

Dave
Do you work for Hill and Knowlton? Or do you work for one of the offices of the high profile politicians Helen Dragas had to pay off to keep her seat?

Don,
Do you work for Hill and Knowlton? Or do you work for one of the offices of the high profile politicians Helen Dragas had to pay off to keep her seat?

@will, @Laramie, @ mattdolan: Why is it that you assume that someone whose opinion differs from yours is being paid to do so or hired by a PR firm? Reasonable minds can differ on a subject such as this which has vexed our state for six months. I am not being paid by anyone but I wnat to point out that I agree with some of Mr. Woodsmall's points. I am also embarrassed and sickened by the hateful, vitriolic, ugly commentary by an active constituency who shame the tradition of hearty but respectful debate at UVa. Are you so unpersuaded in your own arguments and commentary that you have to stoop to personal assaults? If you believe them, let your beliefs and arguments convert others without the accompanying hatred.

I have a modicum of respect for Mark Kington. When things started to go sideways in firing-gate he saw the writing on the walls and stepped aside, knowing that you fold a losing hand, you don't double down, especially when everyone has seen your cards. Helen Dragas on the other hand has squandered other people's fortunes and the reputation of the institution she claims to serve, all in a desperate attempt to cling to power and avoid fault.
"The BOV has the fiduciary duty to fire a president whose poor performance is detrimental to the University."
What then of the responsibilities that devolve upon the Rector to step aside when the Rector's own performance has been unarguably detrimental to the University? This Commonwealth is chock-full of folks who have the wisdom, courage and common sense to selflessly serve in the interest of an institution like UVa, but Helen Dragas isn't among them. The fact that she doesn't seem to understand that further disqualifies her. UVa > Helen Dragas

@Freelove Freida

Who died and left you in charge of this matter? There is no accounting for taste, opinions or pizza crust. We all like what we like. And, last I checked, the free speech part of the Constitution was still in effect.

I feel that this matter has done mortal damage to UVa and that the Rector must go. This is a basic tenet of board service. You make a bad call as a trustee, you leave the board.

The Greeks have an expression that I am sure Ms. Dragas has heard; it is "Fish stink from the head down". When fish stink you throw them out! Time to throw the Dragas' fish out!

You state that all of your bullet points were facts reported previously and you are just putting them together for us. Really? Some fact-based source said, to quote from your third bullet: "President Sullivan was reluctant to leave the cozy confines of UVA to fundraise..." Some fact source said "cozy confines?" Of course not. So your premise is shown false to me as early as this third allegedly reported "fact." (I see others are on to other falsely reported aspects -- I defer to them.)

Opposition to your post is not for me a matter of opinion but of whether you are accurately reporting facts. You are entitled to your opinion, but, as the currently popular phrasing goes, not your own facts.

For what it's worth--which is almost nothing on an anonymous Internet bulletin board--I have met exactly ZERO fellow alumni who are in the pro-Dragas/Dragas was wronged camp.
Undoubtedly there are some of us out there, but I've never seen the young and old, democrat and republican united over anything the way people were united over the notion that the rector had done great damage to UVA, and needed to undo her actions and leave her post.

OH people just google Don Woodsmall and you can see the man is a little out there. These people keep life interesting.

I have NO respect for Mark Kington. Kington and Mark Warner started the Columbia hedge funds to specialize in telecom companies. These are exactly the kinds of companies that would benefit from the on-line learning nonsense. The last two (of five) funds are losing money.

Kington was allied with Dragas in the unethical move to oust Sullivan, and now Mark Warner chimes in with praise of Dragas and advocates keeping her on the board. Mark Warner's alliance with Kington demands that he refrain from commenting on the issue.

The duties and dealings of the BOV is no concern of The Faculty, Staff or Alumni. Much less the students.

One duty is the selection of the executive leadership of the university.

The BOV is self regulated except for the membership on the BOV.

The real question is how these supposed faculty members (instructors?) get the idea that they run the University of Virginia as unelected blow hards?

@Betty - Nice catch! Thanks!

wow. Why would the Hook publish this?

Yeah, though a democrat, never been crazy for Mark W -- seems a bit too shady. So much so that I actually for my one and only time voted Republican in the John Warner v. Mark Warner senate race (back when such Republicans had stature even if I often disagreed -- remember those days? Fading fast. Few if any John Warners left in that party)

@arrogance

I guess if the faculty take other postings, the staff takes other jobs, the students transfer, and the alumni turn their diploma to face the wall and quit supporting the school it is of no concern to the BOV?

Wow, just wow.

George, right. No concern at all. Isn't that the very elitist, disconnected attitude that led to all the trouble?

@civillereader2

Yes apparently "arrogance" has a problem with the citizens of this state, whether students, faculty, alumni, administrators, or just taxpayers contacting their democratically-elected representatives in the Legislature to voice their concern over the horrible decision to keep Dragas on the BOV and demand that she not be confirmed. Apparently we should consider the Governor as some sort of infallible king and bow down to whomever he picks for the BOV? A new and exciting definition of 'democracy'.

Don, you're a piece of wood - wait to live up to your name - tool.

Dear Hook,
You know, Hitler wasn't such a bad guy...thanks for the journalistic ethics...

@George

That is such a shallow thoughtless comment I almost did do offer a response.

Of course you can comment to your elected representatives who must pass on the decisions or the elected governor. That's the right of each and every citizen of the State.

But for the faculty and or staff or students or alumni to attempt to gain control over the BOV, that's truly offensive. As a taxpayer, I encourage the BOV to expell or fire those who do not wish to abide the decisions of the BOV. The BOV should not tolerate this dissent.

Want to change the structure of a government, then change the laws. Otherwise move on to a faculty/staff/student owned and governed institute. Yes they do exists but are not very highly regarded.

Bravo to the Hook. Doing the right thing. Awesome.

Oh Dear God Don, you are clearly clueless about what happened at UVA. Wake up and learn the facts.

"I encourage the BOV to expell or fire those who do not wish to abide the decisions of the BOV. The BOV should not tolerate this dissent."

I believe that's the same approach Hitler took, wasn't it? Getting rid of everyone who wasn't willing to abide by his decisions?

Dissent fosters learning and progress. It's what led to the discovery that the earth was round and not the center of the universe. Dissent fostered the birth of a new country, freeing Americans from being ruled by a distant monarchy. Dissent led to the abolition of slavery, the women's right to vote, and the end of segregation. Good leaders welcome dissent because it offers another viewpoint, protects them from being blinded by their own biases and insular thinking, and leads to new discoveries. Bad leaders fear dissent and quash it only to protect their own self-interests.

UVA is not a fascist, totalitarian regime. It is an institution of higher education built on a model of shared self-governance - something Arrogance doesn't seem to understand. Higher education is not a corporation and students, faculty, and staff are not minions working for a corporate overlord. They can, and will, exercise their right to dissent when they disagree with how the University is being governed. That's not arrogance, that's shared governance. The arrogance is in trying to quash the dissent and refusing to admit that mistakes were made.

Comparison of Hitler to The Rule of Law in a democratic Republic is plainly disingenuous!

This country is founded upon the right to vote. This is far different from disent in the form of tearing down a well established form of administration.

Are you unhappy with the democratic republic, are you dissatisfied with your profession, do you feel underpaid? Well you have choices in this country. You can petition your representatives and vote them from office. Or you can look for a new position. Or you can cry, whine and attack the organization which feeds you and let them decide what your mobility will be.

That's free choice. Choose Well.

We do not have a monarchy in this country, We are not fascists. Thomas Jefferson pledged his life, his fortune and his honor to those who established this democratic republic.

@Newanda

You refer to the UVA self governance. But you rebel against the governance established and proven generations ago.

So I am confused. Do you abide by different laws and administrative systems? Or do you pick and choose what is convenient to justify your narrative?

Don Woodsmall can hardly be called "a neutral observer."

He's a right-wing conservative for whom right-wing conservatives are not conservative enough. Indeed, Woodsmall rejects Republican conservative hard-liners like Del. Scott Lingamfelter and state Sen. Steve Martin for the Republican Lt. Governor nomination in favor of E. W. Jackson, a Tidewater-based pastor who hates gays, wants to undo the Affordable Care Act, and thinks the United States should be a theocracy.

Jackson has said this of gays: "Their minds are perverted, they’re frankly very sick people psychologically, mentally and emotionally and they see everything through the lens of homosexuality."

And this: "Homosexuality is a horrible sin, it poisons culture, it destroys families, it destroys societies; it brings the judgment of God unlike very few things that we can think of."

Jackson has said that the policies of the Democratic party are "anti-Christian" and " anti-God." He said that Obama and his followers are "not interested in God, the Bible, Christianity or any of that." Worse, in a fit of intellectual perversion, Jackson argued that Mitt Romney –– who favored more tax cuts for corporations and the rich and the gutting of Medicare and Medicaid –– would move the country "back toward more traditional values, toward our Constitution, our Declaration and our Judeo-Christian principles."

Jackson seems to know very little about American values, or the Constitution, or "Judeo-Christian principles." Since Woodsmall supports him, presumably he is every bit as obtuse.

And he sure is not a "neutral observer."

Everything in this editorial is absolutely correct and for those of you that don't believe that Dragas had board approval, you need to check your facts. It is firmly on the record, period. I also wouldn't be citing SACs warning. I expect that myth will dissolve as unfounded as well. This witch hunt is just that... A witch hunt. Hard to fathom that grown adults can act the way this group in Charlottesville has in this day and age. I agree with Woodsmall, Dragas is a selfless servant and those of you who compare her to Hitler and such, are first class bullies. If I was a legislator, you would be the last ones I would be listening to.

@arrogance

I am confused. It is OK for a citizen to contact his representatives but not OK to openly disagree with the decisions of the BOV? Unfortunately for you corporate America's beloved "fire at will" doctrine is not applicable in a University setting.

It would be difficult to find a university board of trustees that is held in lower regard than UVa's BOV at the current time. You apparently think UVa can bounce along the top of school ratings for the next few years while the reputation of the BOV bounces along the bottom of informed public perception? Until finally Dragas is gone for good and someone who is not a complete corporate sell-out is sitting in the
Governor's mansion? I think if the Dragas matter is not kept front and center until she is ousted the reputation
of the school will degrade to that of the BOV. Or am I not allowed to have that opinion?

Arrogance -

This country was also founded on free speech yet you seem to be conveniently ignoring that fact and advocating for the dismissal of anyone who exercises this right. Forcible suppression of opposition is the very definition of fascism. It's hardly a disingenuous comparison.

I rebel when those in government behave in ways that are clearly corrupt and inconsistent with the established procedures and norms. That is my right within a democracy - to state my dissent as freely and as often as I like. If you find that annoying, perhaps you should consider moving to a country that isn't a democracy.

The Constitution prohibits government from restricting your right to free speech. It does not protect you from the consequences of your speech.

So you rebell, everybody gets that. You do not agree with the BOV decisions? You do not agree that the statues and administrative law of this State gives the BOV the sole power to hire the President of public educational institutions? You believe that you are special above the other citizens of this State?

I suggest you vote for representatives who will make the changes required to give you the voice you require.

But rest assured that there are many consequences for your position. Some may not respect your disruptive rebellion. Some may respect the elected representatives they voted into office. Some may like the balance of power established over years of refinement.

Rebell, disrupt, offer no constructive alternatives, run your own show. But rest assured there are consequences.

there is a confirmation process under way in the
virginia legislature now; and that will play out .

the letter writer is entitled to his point of view;
and those critical may hold to their view.

much of all this is little more than a sideshow
to the real issues of a broken virginia retirement system;
and the growth of uva hospital.

@ arrogance:

You sound just like a member of the BoV yourself. Nobody else would so high-handedly dismiss everybody else's opinion as irrelevant. It's especially infantile for you to refer to the "so-called" faculty as "instructors."

The real "unelected blowhards" sit on the board. Just how are they elected, again? They are appointed by the governor, who is very likely in the tank for them and their generous campaign contributions.

I hope one outcome of this debacle is some reconsideration of the BoV's composition and the way its members are selected. How about including one or two of those insignificant faculty, staff, students, and/or alumnae instead of packing the board entirely with hedge fund managers, developers, and others of that ilk?

@arrogance
"..it does not protect you from the consequences of your speech".

Is that a threat? If so, bring it on. Apparently pointing out that the governor is giving away UVa BOV seats to big donors is a no-no? Might hurt UVa? How about the governor stop selling the seats? Pointing out that Senator Warner has questionable ethics when he supports Dragas in public without revealing his financial alliance with disgraced board member Kington, a fellow plotter in the Mickey Mouse plot to get rid of Sullivan? How about Senator Warner just shut up when he has a conflict of interest? That too much to ask?

@Arrogance... Thank you for your wisdom. Breath of fresh air.

And with every ill wind...there blows a cool breeze.

I don't know who these unhappy rebels are, but from their comments I doubt any are businessmen of any merit. They speak of the governor selling votes to hedge fund tycoons. They attack people personally without any fact or even the basic understandings of the individuals motivations.

Mrs Dragas is a UVA alumni of merit. She is a successful business leader who is faithfully executing the duties of her office as Rector. She has options that would further her career and enrich her far more than Rector. She has strong support from the committee and it is expected will also have strong support from the legislature.

The people of Virginia should appreciate that she is the Rector and be grateful that she will lead through this time of misguided disent by the rebels. Hopefully discipline will be established and the dysfunction corrected.

Arrogance -

Despite your threats, I'm hardly quaking in my shoes. It is your arrogance that is on full display. You are advocating a fascist response to a people exercising their democratic right to speak, protest, petition, request hearings, etc. Would you now like to dismiss the entire UVA Student Council as well, since they have just passed a resolution asking for the Legislature to block the Dragas appointment? Interesting that you assume that everyone who comments here is a businessman and, moreover, that anyone who disagrees with your point of view is a businessman of little merit. That's a whole lot of assumptions and hubris. Why are you so annoyed by people exercising their democratic rights?

It is the BOV that

A friend just sent me this article which may enlighten readers to some BOV decisions.

http://www.c-ville.com/uvas-rapidly-expanding-medical-center-is-its-bigg...

what kind of town is this ?
my partner mike logan and i came here to see your chief of police
and escort a prisoner back to new york.

and people say new yorkers are rude and nasty .....check out this place.
check out the comments above.

don't like this dragas person ?
who cares ?

can't wait to leave; by the way the food is terrible...
had a bagel; boiling hot; with cream cheese dripping out of it.
please !!!!!

These comments illustrate perfectly the crux of the BOV-community issue. Businesspeople don't respect the faculty position and faculty don't respect the business position. Large universities can't be run like corporations but they have to be run at least in part by smart business people. Everyone respect the fact that people care deeply about UVa on all sides of this issue and want to play a role in making it everything it can/should be. Personally, I think Dragas has done damage, but I also have faith in her love for the school, and have to believe she is more motivated than anyone to prove that love in the form of smart, dedicated efforts towards the betterment of the school. Keep her if she wants to stay...lets just see a little more transparency between BOV and faculty leaders.

The fact that we know beyond doubt that Dragas has hired and almost certainly continues to retain a PR firm makes almost any comment in support of her suspect.

Don-

Although I appreciate your work to write this letter, I have a few disagreements and questions for you.

First, I'd be interested to hear why you think that Liberty University is some kind of valid comparison. (You stated "Liberty University earned $100 million last year from their online learning." I have never heard that figure and would appreciate a citation – it doesn’t pass my sniff test, especially because they would probably have to sell $250 million of online education to ‘earn’ $100 million.

Assuming you are correct, though, what is Liberty's sales breakdown? Is some of it religious information or basic educational information sold to church-loving, home-schooling parents? If Liberty's sales breakdown isn't black and white, please let me know their sales split between actual university-level objective information (e.g., physics, math, etc.) versus fundamental religious info.

I ask because religious information is easy to recycle/restate - after all, that's what church is all about ... recycling from the same 2,000 year old book every Sunday. :-). Yes, there is a large market for that kind of stuff, but no - it isn't true university scholarship that is in any way comparable to what UVA needs to put out under its imprimatur.

In contrast, UVA must offer peer-reviewed, fact-based education across a broad range of disciplines that can stand up to intellectual scrutiny and that stays current with annual increases in knowledge. That's not cheap and not easy. And it is a competitive field. But, let’s get back to the firing.

You do point out that the BOV has powers to dismiss the president .... but, you never did state that the rector has those powers. You clearly assume a lot, but I don't think you would accept being fired by someone who came alone into your office (or accompanied by one other person) and said, 'trust me - others in power agree with me and you have to go.' I’m quite sure you would tell THEM where to go!

There is a reason the word 'due' is a part of 'due process.' Many parts of our society have rules and safeguards to enforce such due process and Dragas has no power to overrule or circumvent those. That is the basic point of this situation.

Finally, Dragas couldn't reasonably have blamed Sullivan for not implementing any distance education plan – there was no such plan. As you, yourself stated, “President Sullivan was not adequately implementing the agreed-to strategic plan; notably, failing to get the online learning operational.”

Sullivan was smart enough to know that, although a strategic plan is important to any organization, it is not a plan to move forward. Instead, you next have to create a well-developed business plan and operating plan.

Academia IS different and my guess is that Sullivan knew she (and UVA) would fail without properly building a coalition and engaging in the cultural change clearly needed to move forward with a dramatic change such as shifting coursework online. She knew she had to take her time and do it right the first time.

It’s a lot easier to make plans and changes like this in IBM, GE, or the University of Phoenix - all of which are clearly and singularly profit-making institutions. But, UVA is not such an organization.

Finally, there is the small hitch that almost no leading US academic institution has yet been able to accomplish distance education in a profitable fashion. So, in reality, Theresa Sullivan has probably SAVED UVA millions of dollars by NOT moving forward.

We may disagree, Don, but these are a few quick thoughts in response you your comments. I look forward to getting your good sources on the Liberty numbers and understanding why you think Liberty is any kind of a peer group to compare UVA.

Sharia law at Wake Forest - a Baptist school. You have to give this guy credit for having an amazing imagination.

@arrogance

"Hopefully discipline will be established and the dysfunction corrected"

Well, discipline was established with the warning from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools who sanctioned UVa precisely because of Dragas' actions. The dysfunctional Dragas remains in spite of the actions of students, faculty, administrators, alumni, taxpayers, and citizens.

I think probation is the next logical step for the SACS to enforce as long as Dragas remains.

Don's letter seems to have been lost in the mail, somewhere, since the issues he raises would have been, and were, more in context in the days and weeks following the Dragas failed dismissal, than they are now. Likewise the items on his bullet list are a bit dusty where they barely graze the truth, or otherwise are patently imaginative. But, what the heck, Don, welcome to the party, anyway.

So, here we are in the present day, awaiting the legislature's decision on keeping the Rector on board. The pertinent facts now seem to be these:

Many people believe Helen was at a minimum reckless in her actions and unrepentant for the consequences.

Many people believe her continued presence on the BOV will bring such suspicion to bear upon the board as to weaken their credibility, moving forward.

Many people believe that the University's reputation and even its ability to function effectively has suffered, and shall continue to suffer, unless and until Helen either takes her leave or is dismissed, and unless and until the specific circumstances prompting her actions are brought to light.

That fact that those who are best positioned to rectify this situation (the sitting board) seem least able to do so strongly suggests that hidden agendas are at work, in the opinion of many people.

Very few people advance the idea that Sullivan's ouster is logically the result of her failings, and that the process was transparent and conducted in accordance with strict and appropriate protocol. Even fewer people have introduced any substantive evidence that Sullivan's actions were contrary or damaging to the University's mission or reputation. By contrast, reports of some board members suggest the dismissal was an ad hoc development implemented by the Rector and devoid of compelling, factual evidence to support it.

Near as I can tell, the above statements reasonably represent the situation as it now stands. Which begs the question, "Where do we go from here?"

The legislature will be lauded if they do NOT approve Helen for another term; they will be roundly condemned if they do. It does now appear that Helen is headed for another term. We may pardonably conclude that the BOV and our elected representatives are therefore of one species - invertebrate.

The worst that can happen if Helen leaves is that the time and energy invested in the current debate may be more fruitfully deployed elsewhere. The worst that can happen is she stays? I'll leave that to your imagination, and we shall soon find out.

Dragas rightfully stays, the employees don't run the school, and faculty and Sullivan become accountable. While not initially popular, the legislators will do the right thing and all will be well unless the predators that this group has become have become entitled beyond reason. If this is the case, the blame lies with Sullivan.

Yo, Logan ... DUCK !!!!

That pig just flew right over your head !

(Whew.)

Looks like campaign donations are proving to be a good investment for those who want to keep their politicians bought. Works for the NRA, and it is working for Dragas. One other politically notable fact is the absence, bemoaned by Creigh Deeds, of any significant and sustained lobbying effort in Richmond by Dragas' detractors. Perhaps the "movement" that took place at the Lawn rallies this summer was over-stated -- I attended all of them, as they all conveniently occurred at lunch breaks or on off-days, and was struck by the rather uniform look of the "protestors" -- they mostly looked like me, people in their late middle age, ethnically white, and of professional and comfortable means. Basically, attending the rallies was convenient for us, and didn't involve much if any sacrifice of time. I did not see more than just a few students (and nearly no undergrads), and doubt many made the effort to travel back to Grounds for the rallies if they were already out of town. All of that does NOT define a demonstrating demographic that is likely to skip or cqancel classes, burn leave time, or schlep in the cold and travel an hour to Richmond to continue the anti-Dragas jihad. This suggests that support for lifting the Dragas yoke from Sullivan's shoulders is rather superficial, even within the UVA "community," as its members prioritize their own doings above the moral outrage that was so easy to express when the livin' was easy, the fish were jumpin' and the cotton was high.

If the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools can determine that the University is still paying the propaganda firm Hill and Knowlton, or is allowing others to pay Hill and Knowlton on behalf of the University, then the accreditation organization is completely justified in implementing the next sanction : probation.

never in a million years.

Some people would have said the same thing about the warning from SACS. The message from SACS was to knock off the nonsense and absolutely nothing has changed. I think it is the only thing that would get rid of Dragas, Happily, it would also lead to the impeachment and removal of the miserable excuse for a governor.

George, while your feelings and wishes are no doubt sincere, I'm afraid you're expectations are not realistic. The SACS in no way suggested that if Dragas continues, with her own money, to employ the services of a PR firm, that would be grounds, wtihin SACS' very limited autgority and jurisdiction, to further sanction the university. There is also no historial basis, at all, to expect that even if UVa comes under further sanction for failing to correct the things that SACS in fact did say need correcting, that impeachment of a governor by a state legislature controlled by his own political party would have any chance. Like many who have been tracking the embarrassing UVa events (embarrassing most of all due to the ease with which Dragas fooled Sullivan, albeit temporarily, into submitting her resignation), you seem to be confusing your hope of what should happen with the realities of what in fact happened and what likely will happen next. Count the votes that are actually occurring in Richmond on Dragas' confirmation, and then ask yourself what the real chances are of that leading to an impeachment of Governor Bob. Perhaps the more politically vulnerable person would be Senator Warner, if he intends to pursue further offices, given that his own party is the one that seems relatively more opposed to his support of Dragas. But I'll beat this drum one more time -- follow the politcal money, people, and who it's coming from and where it's going. Dragas is the consumate "insider," greasing the palms of the powerful of both major parties, and she has deep and longterm roots in Virginia. Sullivan, instead, is a temp, working under a time-limited contract, living in a government-subsidized rental, and not likely to become a permanent resident once her stint is up, no matter how sweet her perceived public persona and enduring the myth of her victimhood. Who really has the advantages in their continued power struggle at a state institution? It won't be the saints sung to by the chiurch choir Sullivan has joined that decide the outcome of this duel, it will be how many Benjamins can be made to dance in the politicians' wallets.

SACS accredits schools a lot more prestigious than UVa. Perhaps they take their job seriously. If they do nothing in the face of manifest inaction by UVa they are discrediting themselves and all the schools they represent.

I agree that it is all about the money. If the UVa endowment was one dollar and nighty-eight cents no one would have been hassling Sullivan to resign. Dragas, Kington, Kiernan, Nau, Jones, et al, are the last people in Virginia that should be allowed anywhere near the endowment. Or the University in general for that matter.

This article is so wrong on the facts, and so wrong-headed, that it seems an obvious flack attack by Ms. Dragass's hired chums at Hill & Knowlton. Helen Dragas, gotta go ... time to egg her onward. Has she ever shown her face on the Grounds since this fracas she started began?
And my hat is still off to Teresa Sullivan -- and to everyone else who supported her at the meeting on The Lawn and in every other way.
Dragass Go Home! .........might say it all. She'd be getter off at Old Dominion and wouldn't have to drive so far to get to a meeting.

It is SUCH a tragedy that Big John Holmes is dead. He could have cured whats ailing Helen Dragas.

@money trail sniffer, the reason there is no sustained lobbying in Richmond by Dragas's detractors is precisely because they are not a big-money demographic--these are people who have to work for a living and who can't pay for full-time lobbyists. Anyone who spent 5 minutes in Charlottesville and who surveyed alumni would know that opposition to Dragas runs deep among the people who really do count to the University--the people who get out their checkbooks and make donations every year. The current students are wet behind the ears and for the most part have a dim understanding of this kind of politics--they are focused on the things students focus on, which is beer pong, getting laid, and their studies (probably in that order). The few who are plugged in most definitely do not support Dragas.

Look on the bright side, y'all can go right back to calling legislators in Richmond all sorts of juvenile names now. Bi-partisan compromise has prevailed in this relatively minor little drama, and it's time get back to trying to make UVA an honest and decent university again.

Oh that Dawg

Gotta catch him in early morning, before he starts Beer Pong, for him to make sense. Good to know he got paroled.

Don Woodsmall - whatever you are, you are not "neutral." Saying it twice in a letter does not make it so. \

Dragas was never openly honest throughout the entire process, and the weak legislature failed to make her realize her mistakes. Dragas has never exhibited any selfless traits or tendencies..

I blame the Hook for publishing this PR drivel as a "letter." It should have charged for the advertisement and published it as such.

Don Woodsmall- I think you are brilliant and obviously the General Assembly of Virginia, full of highly educated, honest legislators agree with you. You are to be commended.

And bravo to the Hook for not being afraid to present both sides.

Helen Dragas = Eva Peron. The pretty fascist dictatress of Argentina .... working hard to create online "learning opportunities" for the educational clients of Hill + Knowlton. Real education is about the Mirror Neurons, which can emulate not only actions but habits of mind: and this works best in an educational setting that involves the transfer of information from one human being to another. If you believe that online "education" deserves a place in the Academical Village, then ... think again. Or let it be a very small adjunct to the classical curriculum. Helen Dragas = Eva Peron. Dragas should resign. Dragas has failed. She would be very welcome, and much more effective at Old Dominion University, which would be closer to home. "Not welcome here

Helen Dragas = Eva Peron. The pretty fascist dictatress of Argentina .... working hard to create online "learning opportunities" for the educational clients of Hill + Knowlton. Real education is about the Mirror Neurons, which can emulate not only actions but habits of mind: and this works best in an educational setting that involves the transfer of information from one human being to another. If you believe that online "education" deserves a place in the Academical Village, then ... think again. Or let it be a very small adjunct to the classical curriculum. Helen Dragas = Eva Peron. Dragas should resign. Dragas has failed. She would be very welcome, and much more effective at Old Dominion University, which would be closer to home. "Not welcome here."

Helen Dragas = Eva Peron. The pretty fascist dictatress of Argentina .... working hard to create online "learning opportunities" for the educational clients of Hill + Knowlton. Real education is about the Mirror Neurons, which can emulate not only actions but habits of mind: and this works best in an educational setting that involves the transfer of information from one human being to another. If you believe that online "education" deserves a place in the Academical Village, then ... think again. Or let it be a very small adjunct to the classical curriculum. Helen Dragas = Eva Peron. Dragas should resign. Dragas has failed. She would be very welcome, and much more effective at Old Dominion University, which would be closer to home. "Not welcome here." ODU enjoys much laxer standards with regard to cheating -- witness Ellen Lieberman.

woops ....

Dragas is a perfect example of an abortion gone wrong.

No, I don't think you are being fair to Ms. Dragas. She's just a decent person who took very, very bad advice. Her good looks have helped her along. She's Eva Peron writ small, and she may yet be the first female governor of Virginia. Certainly she's going to run. Hill + Knowlton may have concocted the whole "Sack Sullivan" brouhaha as a way of bringing Helen Dragas to the forefront of the next race for Governor of Virginia. That has been very effective, as well as very cost effective per impression, so far. Everyone in Virginia has now heard of Helen Dragas and her fearless fight against government waste. Que Viva Eva!