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Posted at 03:34 PM ET, 08/12/2012

At peak of crisis, calls for Helen Dragas to resign


The University of Virginia released more than 1,200 pages of e-mails and other documents Friday that contained hundreds of calls from alumni, faculty and others for the leader of the governing board, Rector Helen E. Dragas, to resign.

Dragas has apologized for the nature in which she tried, unsuccessfully, to oust U-Va. President Teresa Sullivan in June, but she has held her ground as rector and voted on June 26 to reinstate Sullivan. Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) subsequently reappointed Dragas to the board and voiced concern that she had become “the sole target” of criticism at a time when the university needed reconciliation. Dragas and Sullivan also issued a joint statement about working together to advance the university’s goals in July.


U-Va. Rector Helen Dragas smiles during the June 26 meeting during which the board voted to reinstate President Teresa Sullivan. (Steve Helber - AP)
The public records release showed more than 450 calls for Dragas’s resignation, most during the peak of the crisis. Reading through them reminded us of Paul Simon’s 1975 hit “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover,” which lists ways to call it quits, like “Just slip out the back, Jack,” or “Make a new plan, Stan.”

The e-mails were released in response to a public records request by the Hook, a Charlottesville weekly, which asked for communications to and from Dragas that mention the possibility of resignation.

There were some e-mails in support of Dragas. But they were far outnumbered by e-mails from critics.

“It has been well documented that even though we acted in good faith, some were angered by the Board's actions two months ago and my role specifically,” Dragas said Sunday night. “I have expressed my sincere apologies and great regret for the controversy and the misunderstandings that led to it. Since that time, the Board unanimously reinstated President Sullivan and we have pledged to move forward positively. I intend to dedicate my energies to constructive leadership and the future of the University.”
Here is a sampling from the critics:

1) “Resign!”

2) “Her immediate resignation would be a positive step towards healing, but short of that, MDPV (‘Most Despised Person in Virginia’) cannot be allowed to serve another term.”

3) “Dump Dragas.”

4) “It can be simple. You don't need to explain. It can be short. Just do it and get it over with. That's my advice -- given in kindness.”

5) “Each and every one of you should resign! The damage you have done to the University is beyond belief.”

6) “They have brought embarrassment to our University. As punishment I say they have forced detention with Angry Birds; alternatively, the Rector could step down.”

7) “This episode is a fundamental error. It needs to be walked back. And fast. And the people who did this need to go. Very transparently. And very fast.”

8) “Do the right thing, please, out of respect for the University and all of us who love it — resign. There is no other way to undo the damage you have caused.”

9) “Who ... is Helen Dragas, and what is she trying to do?”


A poster on the door of a U-Va. student’s room on The Lawn, a place of honor where some fourth-year students are invited to live. (Photo by Jenna Johnson)
10) “You have done a singularly masterful job of totally embarrassing the University of Virginia, the Commonwealth, and yourself in a little less that two weeks. Please.....please just resign immediately.”

11) “Please do the honorable thing and resign, leaving room for those who truly care about this great place to fill your shoes and clean up the terrible mess you have created.”

12) “Dragas needs to resign. She has definitely lost control of this situation and it will be best for the University if she leaves the board.”

13) “Please resign and apologize.”

14) “We are prepared to respond to your resignation with gratitude, forgiveness, and grace.”

15) “What in the world are you thinking??!! ... Ms. Dragas, you should resign from the Board for this absolute PR debauchery!”

16) “I join my fellow alumni in calling for her resignation.”

17) “Every day she insists on staying in office is another day that the University loses donors, faculty, and the respect of the academic community. If she truly cares for the University, she will step down.”

18) “DRAGUS AND HER CRONIES HAVE TO GO IF UVA IS TO SURVIVE.”


Sure, Sullivan and Dragas have hugged it out. But can they really work together? ((Photo by Veronica Manuel, The Cavalier Daily.) )
19) “This alum will not contribute another dime until the full board is replaced with competent people representing the best interests of the University community.”

20) “Some mistakes can be mended with an apology. This is not one of them.”

21) “I certainly won't be giving any money while Dragas is
still on the BOV.”

22) “Please resign from the UVA BOV. Yes, some of you are the ‘babies’ in the bathwater, but that’s your unfortunate position.”

23) “Do the right thing. Leave so we can retain our dignity as a great institution; the sooner you leave, the sooner we can rebuild our self-image of integrity, transparency and trust. Those are not just words to us. Those words mean something deep to us.”

24) “The BOV need to realize that if they cannot make their argument transparently, in the public light and for the public good then their argument cannot be made in Mr. Jefferson's village. Please BOV, get out of the way.”

25) “I beg you to resign.”

26) “You need to resign. Now.”

27) “The Rector badly bungled this — very, very badly — and I would like nothing more than to see her and other board members removed.”

28) “I believe that Dragas should be removed from the Board of Visitors, not only because of her actions and her behavior, which I feel violates the Honor System so revered by our University, but also because a real estate developer has NO business being on a decision making board of a major university.”

29) “Do the right thing...resign.”


Dragas at a June 19 meeting. (Sabrina Schaeffer - AP)
30) “I will not make another donation until the rector resigns. Her term is over July 1 but she has brought immeasurable harm which will be felt for years. I am sadly enraged.”

31) “I allowed the Board the benefit of a doubt until today, but I am not yet senile and senseless. You have disgraced the University. Resign.”

32) “In short, when the Board of Visitors messed with the University of Virginia... it messed with a lot of people. This is why key members on the Board must go, beginning with the incompetent Dragas.”

33) “Redeem yourselves. Apologize. Be transparent. And then step down.”

34) “Strategic dynamism? Fire yourselves. That's the strategic dynamism we need. Shake it up.”

35) “Question: Could this have been handled in a more ham-handed, underhanded, inept way? Answer: No! Congratulations, BoV!”

36) “The only true contribution you can give to the University of Virginia now is to apologize and resign. Immediately.”

37) “You DRAGAS down Helen, SHAME on you!”

38) “I hope that some of you have the honor to resign after the sinister way you ousted the President of the University of Virginia based on your politics and pettiness.”


Dragas answers questions from the media on June 10, the day that she announced Sullivan would step down. (Sabrina Schaeffer - AP)
39) “The one that should go is Rector Dragas!”

40) “Her continued presence makes UVA look like a bastion for fools. Please get rid of her.”

41) “I could go on and on saying negative things about your leadership and how you have seriously hurt our beloved university... Again, please resign.”

42) “Helen Dragas should resign. She has disgraced what was/has been a great university. Nothing can reverse the incalculable damage she has done.”

43) “Please step down so that the University may move forward and clean up the mess that you have created.”

44) “Ms. Dragas should be given her walking papers for the instrumental role she has played.”

45) “I want to know what ....is going on. I have no confidence in Rector Helen E. Dragas. I want her to resign.”

46) “Get RID of Helen!!! Please!!!”

47) “I hope for a resignation of the Rector and the birth of transparent dialogues, devoid of futile rhetoric.”

48) “This important moment in the history of The University can only be realized if you resign.”

49) “If you care about the University, please send a signal that you do: reinstate President Sullivan and ask Ms. Dragas to submit her resignation and return to Virginia Beach.”

50) “I add my voice to the growing chorus calling on you to resign.”

For more higher education news, you can follow Jenna on Twitter and Facebook. And for more on the U-Va. leadership crisis, check out these articles:

U-Va. upheaval: 18 days of leadership crisis

Helen Dragas: The leader who forced out U-Va.’s president

University of Virginia leader Helen Dragas questioned Lady Gaga -themed class

Can Teresa Sullivan and Helen Dragas still work together at U-Va.?

By and Donna St. George  |  03:34 PM ET, 08/12/2012

 
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