State Sen. Barbara Favola of the 31st District announced yesterday that she will oppose the re-appointment of Helen Dragas to the University of Virginia’s Board of Visitors. In a statement, Favola said, “Although it is uncommon for any nominee to be challenged, that pattern will be broken with re-nomination of Helen Dragas. I condemn a culture that disregards transparency and accountability. It appears that this was the culture that invoked the secretive manner in which Dr. Teresa Sullivan was asked to resign. Helen Dragas was in a position to lead the University of Virginia, our flagship University, to new heights. However, we all know that great things can only happen when leaders are grounded in values that we all respect and admire. Unfortunately, Ms. Dragas did not demonstrate those values. For these reasons, I will oppose her re-appointment.”
The Favola release continued, “ Ms. Dragas is widely acknowledged to have led the effort to oust the University’s president earlier this year. The effort was engineered without a full Board vote, and without Board discussion, but rather via private phone calls and e-mail messages. U.Va. President Dr. Teresa Sullivan was never informed of the unhappiness with her performance among some Board members, and so was blindsided by the meeting called to ask for her resignation. All of this was done behind closed doors, and with insufficient explanation. Her ouster was shocking to faculty, students, staff, and alumni, and added urgency to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (UVA’s accrediting body), warning that the University is in violation of two key governance standards.