I wrote an article for Saturday’s paper about the working relationship between University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan and Board of Visitors Rector Helen Dragas, which several sources say has been growing increasingly tense. In early February, Sullivan sent an email to the entire governing board raising “strong objections” to a list of 65 goals that Dragas sent her for the remainder of the school year.
(You can read the full article here: “At U-Va., tensions persist between Sullivan and Dragas.” And you can read the emails here: “AY12-13 goals for the President.“)
The U-Va. Faculty Senate formally responded to the article on Monday in a statement that said, in part: “Rector Dragas’s reported conduct does not embody the spirit of reconciliation and cooperation that we expected to follow the reinstatement of President Sullivan.” The faculty group questioned whether a majority or minority of board members were involved with creating the goals.
The statement was unanimously approved by the Faculty Senate Executive Council and faculty members who were present at a meeting on Monday. (You can read the full statement after the jump.)
Dragas was not immediately available to comment on the statement. The governing board leader has previously stated that the long list of goals “echo multiple voices” on the board, not just her own, and they provided a “starting point” for determining the president’s final goals.
Sullivan has declined to release or discuss these goals, which she says are a personnel matter. A Chronicle of Higher Education reporter caught Sullivan at a conference over the weekend and asked her about the Post’s article. Sullivan reportedly said that “overly much is being made” of her relationship with Dragas. When asked if Dragas has made the president’s job more difficult, Sullivan responded: “I won’t go there.”
Statement by Faculty Senate on The Washington Post Article of March 2, 2013
The following statement by the University of Virginia Faculty Senate Executive Council was supported by a unanimous vote of the faculty members present at today’s Faculty Senate meeting.
“We were disheartened to read the article in Saturday’s Washington Post. We understand that the newspaper story may not fully convey the substance or context of the situation. Nevertheless, based on the information presented in this article, we find regrettable Rector Dragas’s actions as well as the statements in her e-mail and in her interview.
“Rector Dragas’s reported conduct does not embody the spirit of reconciliation and cooperation that we expected to follow the reinstatement of President Sullivan. Unfortunately, it raises the very concerns about minority control that led UVA’s accrediting agency to put us on warning last fall, and suggests that Rector Dragas has not yet learned the governance lessons from last summer’s crisis. This kind of behavior must end.
“Fortunately, the Board of Visitors at its meeting last week approved President Sullivan’s proposal to increase faculty salaries, which Rector Dragas reportedly had deleted from her list of goals. The Board also apparently approved a more reasonable set of presidential goals than the ones detailed by Rector Dragas. The Board continues to take steps to improve its internal governance processes. We applaud the Board’s efforts and are eager to continue working with the Board in mutual commitment to the University’s excellence.”