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McDonnell, Sullivan look to move foward as Dragas remains on Board

Gov. Bob McDonnell makes eight appointments to Board of Visitors; selections include six members and creation of two senior advisors

Gov. Bob McDonnell today reappointed Helen E. Dragas to the University Board of Visitors after several weeks of her being at the center of the widespread uproar around Grounds.

Dragas instigated the University’s most tumultuous period in decades by leading the ouster of President Teresa A. Sullivan. On Tuesday, Dragas voted with the rest of the Board to reinstate Sullivan.

Dragas will serve another four-year term, including one more year as Rector.

“While there is no doubt that the board made several mistakes in its actions, which it has publicly admitted, this is not a time for recrimination,” McDonnell said in a statement. “It’s a time for reconciliation. I have been heartened by recent statements made by President Sullivan, the Board of Visitors and by the Faculty Senate Chair about their ability to work with the Rector.”

Law Prof. George Cohen, the chair of the Faculty Senate, told reporters following Sullivan’s reinstatement Tuesday: “She said that she can work with the rector and we can work with the rector as well.” He reiterated those sentiments in a statement released Friday which called the University’s primary goal that of “restoring trust.”

McDonnell also appointed lobbyist Frank Atkinson, Alumni Association Chair Victoria Harker, attorney Bobbie Kilberg and outgoing James Madison University President Linwood Rose to four-year terms. Dr. Edward Miller, the current ex-officio Board member, will take the 17th voting seat as McDonnell’s final appointment.

“Cognizant of the need for varied and wide-ranging voices, I have appointed competent professionals to the Board who come from the fields of academia, business, law and technology, and who can, while bringing different backgrounds and philosophies to the table, work well together in finding common ground and forging a shared path for Mr. Jefferson’s University,” McDonnell said.

Sullivan released a statement which acknowledged the increased pressures facing the University following Dragas’ public insistences that it was not moving fast enough to address rapid changes in higher education in an era of dwindling state financial support.

“This is a group of distinguished individuals – from higher education and technology to government and health care – who will be able to hit the ground running,” Sullivan said of the appointments to the Board. “Their collective expertise will be invaluable, as there is much work to be done.”

For the first time, McDonnell also appointed two non-voting senior advisory members: Leonard Sandridge, who served as the University’s executive vice president and chief operating officer for 44 years, and William Goodwin, a former Board member and a former chair of the Darden School Board of Trustees.

Dragas applauded McDonnell’s “thoughtful new appointments” in a statement she released. “Each of us on the Board looks forward to working in a constructive and inclusive way with President Sullivan, along with students, faculty, alumni, and staff on tackling the broad challenges that face the University,” Dragas said. “Together, I’m confident that we can preserve and enhance UVA’s greatness for present and future generations.”

Board member Robert D. Hardie, one of Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine’s appointees in 2008, will not retain his seat under McDonnell. Glynn Key and Heywood Fralin, who both served on the Board for eight years, were not eligible for reappointment.

McDonnell’s statement went out of its way to mention that Sullivan and Dragas were the first women to hold their respective positions. He also set Harker and Kilberg apart from the other appointees by mentioning their roles as “female CEOs who are well-respected in their fields.”

Miller, the dean and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine, was added to the Board in an advisory capacity by McDonnell last year and was rumored to be Dragas’ top choice to replace Sullivan as interim president.


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