Dragas fires back at Faculty Senate
Letter claims internal conflict on the Board is a confidential matter
University Board of Visitors Rector Helen Dragas criticized the Faculty Senate in an email Tuesday for their condemnation of the content of an email exchange between her and University President Teresa Sullivan obtained by The Washington Post last weekend.
In the exchange, which took place in early February, Sullivan accused Dragas of “micromanagement” in response to a list the rector sent the President’s office which outlined 65 goals for the administration to accomplish before the end of the academic year. At its meeting Monday, the Faculty Senate released a statement saying it was “disheartened” by the exchange.
In Tuesday’s email, Dragas criticized the Faculty Senate for reacting to media reports on the controversy. “A newspaper article … may not fully convey the substance or context of the situation,” she said. “It is unfortunate, and disappointing, to see the Faculty Senate react [to these reports].”
University administrators are aware of the correspondence, said University spokesperson McGregor McCance, but the document was not distributed publicly. Though he added it is now a document of public record.
“The correspondence of the Rector was delivered to the Faculty Senate Executive Council and the members of the Board of Visitors office on behalf of the Rector,” McCance said in an email. “The communication is from the Rector to the Faculty Senate Executive Council, and was not distributed as a news release.”
Dragas said although she understands the Faculty Senate’s desire for transparency, there were certain issues raised in the released emails that she cannot discuss.
“The University considers the issue at hand a confidential personnel matter,” she said in the email. “I follow the laws and procedures around these issues … this reality inevitably leads to incomplete or one-sided coverage.”
While Sullivan’s February response indicated the Board had not included in its list of goals a commitment to raising faculty salaries, Dragas said the Faculty Senate should remain assured in the Board’s commitment to increasing compensation. “I fully supported, as did the entire Board, the goal of advancing salaries to achieve at least a 20th place ranking among our [Association of American Universities] peers,” she said. “This action expresses our appreciation of the importance of competitive compensation.”
The emails released during the weekend highlighted renewed tensions between the Dragas and Sullivan since the Board’s attempted ouster of the University president last June — tensions that may be tested again during the Board’s quarterly review of Sullivan’s performance and goal attainment. The Board will conduct the review in a closed committee session Wednesday in Richmond.