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Virginia Politics
Posted at 12:05 PM ET, 07/11/2012

U-Va. president attempts to quell complaints about leadership crisis

Newly reinstated University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan is on her way to Georgia on Wednesday to respond to complaints about the
University of Virginia Rector Helen Dragas and President Teresa Sullivan (Norm Shafer for The Washington Post)
leadership crisis that engulfed the school the past month.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, which accredits U-Va., questioned last month whether the school was in compliance with its standards relating to integrity and the faculty’s role in governance.

“She is, of course, concerned about the letter and wants to understand fully what it means for the university,’’ U-Va. spokeswoman Carol Wood said. “She felt it was best to have such a discussion in person.’’

The university must respond in writing by the end of the month.

The Board of Visitors ousted Sullivan after less than two years on the job, but after an uproar at the historic Charlottesville campus, the governing board reinstated her.

The board was expected to meet this weekend for its annual retreat. But that gathering was postponed until Aug. 15-16 in Richmond after Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) appointed five new members to the 17-member panel.
Un iversity of Virginia protest over Sullivan’s ouster (Steve Helber/AP)

Each summer, the board meets for a two-day retreat, most of which is held in closed sessions and not open to the public. This year’s retreat had been scheduled at the Boars Head Inn, which is owned by a university foundation, and did not require a deposit.

A location and agenda for the August meeting have yet to be set, according to a board spokeswoman.

But McDonnell, who had threatened to remove all members if they did not resolve the ongoing troubles at the school, has asked to speak, his spokesman said.

The board will pick a vice rector at the meeting after the resignation of Mark Kington. Rector Helen Dragas recently sent an e-mail asking members whether they are interested. She also told them that she wants to hire a consultant and form a committee for long-term planning.  

Dragas wrote in early June that she wanted the retreat to focus on “self-assessment and government alignment,’’ according to an e-mail she sent to Sullivan that was released by the university in response to a public information request.

“Coordinating our committee meeting content, schedule, membership and other elements of organization with broad institutional goals and best practices in higher ed will be a significant part of this discussion,” Dragas wrote June 3.

Last year, the retreat was held at the Hilton and Lorien hotels in Old Town Alexandria, and the board focused mainly on discussing the operation of the medical center, according to meeting minutes. The retreat cost the board around $30,000, which included travel expenses, meals, meeting space, an outing and luncheon for spouses, and hotel rooms for nearly 40 people who stayed one or two nights each.

The previous summer, the board met at the Hilton in Virginia Beach.

By and  |  12:05 PM ET, 07/11/2012

 
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