From Richmond, my Post colleague Errin Haines spotted this intriguing item Wednesday afternoon from the Times-Dispatch: Critics of University of Virginia Rector Helen E. Dragas have taken to the skies above the state Capitol to drum up opposition to her confirmation to a seat on the university’s governing board.
This story from Karin Kapsidelis of the Times-Dispatch and an accompanying photo showed a lobbying banner pulled by a small plane on the day the General Assembly convened. “Restore Integrity at U.Va. Don’t Confirm Dragas” the banner read. It was not immediately known who paid for the flyover.
Dragas, leader of the governing Board of Visitors, was the prime mover in an effort last June to oust U-Va. President Teresa Sullivan. Her effort failed spectacularly, but Dragas nonetheless was reappointed to a second four-year term on the board by Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R).
Now her appointment faces a confirmation vote in the legislature. The outcome is entirely uncertain. Several lawmakers support Dragas. Several have indicated oppose her confirmation or undecided, which is highly unusual for university board appointments. It’s likely there will be floor debate in both houses if the confirmation comes to a vote.
Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), a former governor, has called three state lawmakers to vouch for Dragas and urge her confirmation.
“Senator Warner has known Helen Dragas for years and considers her a friend,” Warner spokesman Kevin Hall said in an email. “He believes events last June were poorly handled and embarrassed the university. He also agrees with President Sullivan that the university would be best served by moving forward instead of re-litigating last summer’s events.”
Sullivan, for the record, is not known to have taken a public position on the confirmation question.
U.S. Sen. Timothy M. Kaine (D) appointed Dragas to her first term on the U-Va. board in 2008, when Kaine was serving as governor.