When the news of UVA President Teresa Sullivan's ouster hit (I learned of it via a June 10 e-mail from Helen Dragas, UVA Rector - my son is a 2012 graduate so I am a member of the UVA community, I suppose) I did not think it was much more than an internal UVA matter certainly not worthy of a diary here. However, as I have learned more about Helen Dragas I do think the ouster of Teresa Sullivan should be of interest here, a community concerned with electing more (and better democrats).
A commenter asked, in response to this article by UVA professor Siva Vaidhyanathan,
(http://www.slate.com/...) why, if Sullivan had done nothing wrong or saw herself as the right leader for the university, did she tender her resignation without a fight? I thought, well, because that is the University of Virginia way. When the head of the Board of Visitors tells you that she has enough votes to force you to resign, you assume she is acting and has acted with honor and integrity. You respond with honor and integrity by tendering your resignation. They take honor and integrity very seriously at Mr Jefferson's university.
Now, enough has been written in the press to tell us that Helen Dragas acted with anything but honor and integrity in engineering the coup that ousted Sullivan.
So, who is Helen Dragas? I am a good Virginia Democrat but elections come, elections go, I help, I vote but I am not too much about the "inside baseball" stuff. Basically, until I went to my son's graduation in May the name "Helen Dragas" would not have meant much to me. Now I know much more about her.
She was appointed to the Board of Visitors by Tim Kaine in 2008. Ms Dragas is a wealthy, condo developer from Virginia Beach. She describes herself as fiscally conservative. Her resume, her associations, even her campaign donations scream "Blue Dog!!!" Yet, she is viewed as an up and comer in politics - possibly Virginia's first female governor, according to former Virginia Democratic Chairman Paul Goldman writing in Blue Virginia on June 17. Goldman saw her as a possible Lt Governor candidate next year - the first step to the Governor's office. This article speculated on what damage Dragas had done to her political future. Today in a "man have I got a crush on Helen Dragas" piece in Blue Virginia Goldman goes on and on in praise of her political skills, I get the impression he thinks she worked the room and came out ahead - so onward to Richmond! Unfortunately, he may be right.
So, fellow Virginians we now know all too well who Helen Dragas is, how she operates (without honor and integrity), whose bidding she does (wealthy hedge fund billionaires like Paul Tudor Jones) - we have been warned. Say no to putting a blue dog Democrat in the State House. We can do better, can't we?
11:26 AM PT: I will try to summarize some of the details surrounding this whole debacle ( but the bottom line is this: President Sullivan wanted UVA to be, well, a university; Dragas and her fellow schemers want it to be a business. (Aside: if I wanted my son to attend a college that was run like a business, was in fact a business, I'd have told him to enroll at University of Phoenix or some other for-profit "college.")
On June 10th an e-mail was sent from Dragas to the UVA community announcing that "by mutual agreement" Teresa Sullivan was resigning her post as president. Initial news reports stated that the resignation was the result of unanimous board action. Turns out this was not true. Dragas had polled, informally, members of the Board of Visitors, concluded that she could get enough votes to force Sullivan out - no formal vote was ever taken. There was a meeting of the Executive Committee convened to accept Sullivan's resignation but Dragas engineered it so that 3 of Sullivan's supporters were unable to attend. The secretive and sneaky nature of the ouster of Sullivan was revealed in a leaked e-mail from hedge fund, former Goldman Sachs guy, Peter Kiernan, Chairman of the Darden School Foundation (Darden is UVA's business school) - he said that yes he was involved and that Dragas had asked that their efforts to oust Sullivan be kept under wraps. Kiernan has been forced out of his Darden position. Since this all came out the UVA campus has been in an uproar. The Faculty Senate has taken a vote stating "no-confidence" in the BOV and called for Dragas' and Vice-Rector Kington's resignation. The BOV met yesterday and into this morning. Sullivan spoke and gave an excellent presentation of her vision for the University. Dragas (who has hired PR firm Hill & Knowlton) gave an unimpressive, lots of words that said nothing. The BOV has appointed the Dean of the MacIntire School of Commerce as interim President - so guess that they are winning in their quest to turn UVA into another branch of ITT Tech or University of Phoenix!
11:47 AM PT: Funny thing....as I was typing the update above I got a call from Va Victory 2012 and when I was on that call a call from Kaine for VA came through. From what I gathered chatting with the woman from VA Victory and Kaine HQ they've been getting many calls and, in fact, at Kaine HQ they are apparently meeting now to come up with a statement. I told them that I was mightily pissed off about this fiasco and hoped that Gov Kaine would do the right thing or he might face a bit of an enthusiasm gap from people whose votes he dearly needs.