It will be very interesting to see what the reaction of the UVA community will be to this announcement by Bob McDonnell. My guess is, not positive, but we’ll see (they could all just be exhausted by the entire situation and want to put it past them).
I have also reappointed Helen Dragas to the board. Ms. Dragas was appointed to the board by my predecessor Governor Tim Kaine in 2008 and elected rector by the board’s members in 2011. Prior to that appointment, she had served on the Commonwealth Transportation Board and the State Council for Higher Education in Virginia, in both cases through appointments made by Governor Mark Warner. During her four-year term on the board she has been a strong and dedicated board member, committed to advancing the mission of the university.
Just as I was disappointed to see the lack of transparency and communication surrounding the request for the resignation of the first female president of UVa, I am also concerned that the first female rector seemed to become the sole target of recent criticism. 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. 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. As Faculty Senate Chairman George Cohen said to The Richmond Times-Dispatch, “She (Dr. Sullivan) said she can work with the rector. I think we can work with the rector as well.” That kind of commitment to unity, healing and advancement is crucial to the university’s success in maintaining itself as a pillar of higher education to pursue the growth of knowledge and advance the human condition. Today’s reappointment is made in that spirit and with that purpose. I look forward to the board and administration moving forward together. The university’s tradition is the embrace of inquiry, critical thinking and change, which the rector and many others bring to the table. Ms. Dragas’s serious critique of the challenges facing the university is a voice that must be heard, and can help, in ensuring UVa remains one of the world’s foremost institutions of higher learning.