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Posted at 02:31 PM ET, 03/05/2013

U-Va. Rector Helen Dragas says entire board asked to participate in creating presidential goals


University of Virginia Board of Visitors Rector Helen E. Dragas responded Tuesday to faculty leaders who questioned her motives and processes in setting goals for the president. Dragas wrote in a letter to the U-Va. Faculty Senate Executive Committee that presidential goals are a “confidential personnel matter,” so she is limited in what she can share.


University of Virginia Rector Helen Dragas with board of visitors member W. Haywood Fralin in 2012. (Steve Helber - Associated Press)
“This reality inevitably leads to incomplete or one-sided coverage, making it even more difficult to fairly judge,” Dragas wrote in a letter obtained by The Post. (You can read the full letter after the jump.) “I trust that our faculty, as a whole, are able to inspire our students to a high level of critical analysis, especially in emotionally charged situations.”

The Post published an article over the weekend about the ongoing and building tension between Dragas and U-Va. President Teresa Sullivan, who was ousted by the board last summer but then reinstated within weeks.

In early February, Sullivan raised “strong objections” to a list of 65 goals for the rest of the school year that she received from Dragas, according to an e-mail exchange obtained by The Post. At one point, Sullivan wrote: “I am not averse to stretch goals, but I also do not care to be set up to fail.”

The U-Va. Faculty Senate Executive Council issued a statement on Monday that responded to The Post’s article and raised concerns about Dragas’s reported conduct, along with statements made in e-mail and an interview with The Post. They wrote, in part, that Dragas appears to have “not yet learned the governance lessons from last summer’s crisis. This kind of behavior must end.”

Sullivan has declined to comment to The Post on this matter or publicly discuss her goals. In a statement written for the U-Va. student newspaper but forwarded to The Post on Tuesday morning by a university spokesman, Sullivan said that the e-mail correspondence was made “made public without my consent or knowledge.”

“As President, I am committed to work to elevate the University of Virginia to greater heights of excellence,” Sullivan said in the statement. “Furthermore, my commitment to working with the Board of Visitors to achieve this objective is steadfast.”

Sullivan is scheduled to meet with the board Wednesday evening for a quarterly review meeting to “discuss performance and goals,” according to a university spokesman. The meeting will be held at a Richmond law firm where Vice Rector George Martin works. The meeting will be closed to the public and there is “no action that will come out of this meeting,” according to a public notice issued by the university.

Below is the letter that Dragas sent to the Faculty Senate Executive Committee, which was forwarded to many faculty members:

And here is the statement that Sullivan provided to the Cavalier Daily, which was shared with The Post on Tuesday:

“Email correspondence between me and the Board of Visitors regarding my goals was made public without my consent or knowledge. As President, I respect the Board of Visitors’ role in setting policy for the University and identifying reasonable goals by which to evaluate my performance.

“The University is engaged in a strategic planning process which will provide an important road map for maintaining leadership in education, patient care, research and service. And, with the recent support of the Board of Visitors, the University is working toward implementing a long-term financial plan to achieve many important goals, including increasing faculty compensation.

“As President, I am committed to work to elevate the University of Virginia to greater heights of excellence. Furthermore, my commitment to working with the Board of Visitors to achieve this objective is steadfast.”

By  |  02:31 PM ET, 03/05/2013

 
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