Tension Continues at UVA

Mar 6, 2013

A report in the Washington Post suggests that University of Virginia Rector Helen Dragas is again at odds with the university’s president, and the faculty is taking sides.

When UVA President Teresa Sullivan was reinstated last summer, she and Rector Helen Dragas assured the public they could work together, but it appears the two are feuding over long-term goals for the university and its medical center and the role that a governing board should play in day-to-day operations.

The trouble apaprently began when President Sullivan sent a list of her goals for the academic year to the board of visitors’ evaluation committee, which includes Dragas.  Two months later, the rector sent a revised list – about six pages in length, containing 65 goals.

Sullivan then sent an e-mail to the entire board, noting that Dragas had given her less than a week to respond before the goals would become permanent, that 22 of the items had never been mentioned before, and that one goal required her to do something she’s not legally authorized to do.

Missing from the list, she added, was her own top priority – raises for UVA’s faculty.  Sullivan advised Dragas that “board oversight is ideally at a strategic or policy level,” and that many of the 65 items on her list were “operational.”

This week, the faculty weighed in.

"We felt that the conduct that was reported in this article was really inconsistent with the kinds of cooperation and reconciliation that we had hoped would happen after the reinstatement of President Sullivan," said George Cohen, Chairman of the Faculty Senate.

Dragas has since replied, saying it is “unfortunate and disappointing to see the faculty senate react to a newspaper article that may not fully convey the substance or context of the situation.”  

The board of visitors meets again in May.