RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – Gov. Bob McDonnell announced Friday that he is reappointing Helen Dragas as rector of the University of Virginia’s Board of Visitors.
McDonnell also announced the appointment of five other Board of Visitors positions, along with two senior board advisors. Those are newly created positions established by the governor.
The additions include the former President of James Madison University, the former CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine and a chairwoman of the university’s alumni association. [BONUS: Complete list of appointments to U.Va. Board of Visitors]
“While normally I would not make a statement concerning board and commission appointments, the events of the last three weeks at the University of Virginia have been anything but ordinary,” said McDonnell in a news release. “They compel me to offer a fuller explanation of the reasoning behind my selection of the excellent people I am appointing today to the UVa board.” [BONUS: Read McDonnell's full statement and bios of the appointees.]
McDonnell said that he reappointed Dragas because she was a “dedicated board member, committed to advancing the mission of the university.” Dragas was appointed to the board Gov. Tim Kaine in 2008 and elected rector in 2011.
McDonnell also said he was concerned Dragas, that university’s first female rector, 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,” said McDonnell. “It’s a time for reconciliation.”
The University of Virginia Board of Visitors voted to reinstate ousted university President Teresa Sullivan during a special meeting Tuesday. Rector Helen Dragas pronounced her support that ousted President Dr. Teresa Sullivan be reinstated. The board voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
“Thank you for renewing your confidence in me and once again giving me the opportunity to lead the University of Virginia,” said Sullivan.
Last week Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell sent a letter to the University of Virginia’s Board of Visitors demanding it take action at today’s meeting.
“I want final action by the Board on Tuesday,” the governor said in a statement. “If you fail to do so, I will ask for the resignation of the entire Board on Wednesday. Regardless of your decision, I expect you to make a clear, detailed and unified statement on the future leadership of the University.” [BONUS: Click here to read McDonnell's letter to the board]
“I do not ask that we sweep any differences under a rug but rather we engage each other with candor and respect,” said Sullivan. “All of us see only one thing—what is best for our university. I believe that we can continue in this task.”
“I want to thank the members of the Board of Visitors of the University of Virginia for their conclusive action today to bring the issue of the Presidency of the school to a close, as I directed last Friday,” Gov. McDonnell said in a release.
“The past few weeks have not been easy for the University, and all those who love it. There has been too little transparency; too much vitriol. Too little discussion; too much blame. Now, with today’s Board action, the time has come for Mr. Jefferson’s University to move forward. The statements made today by Board members and President Sullivan were poignant and gracious and set the right tone for collaboration ahead,” McDonnell said.
“She steps back into the President’s office with the best wishes of this Administration and the University community,” he added.
Former governor and U.S. Senate Candidate, Tim Kaine, who appointed Dragas as Rector also released a statement applauding the unanimous decision. “I am confident that the University of Virginia will emerge stronger than ever and continue to move forward as an exemplary educational institution critical to the future of our Commonwealth,” he said.
On June 19, after nearly 11 hours of meeting behind closed doors, the University of Virginia’s Board of Visitors appointed McIntire School of Commerce Dean Carl Zeithaml to lead the University as its interim president. Zeithaml stepped back from the job three days later amid campus protests from students and faculty.
Many of those protestors chided the Board of Visitors for ousting President Sullivan for reasons not made entirely clear to the University community.
Former U.Va. President John Casteen III, was among the supporters in attendance. Casteen voiced dismay at the speedy and secretive way that the board made its decision.