U-Va.’s board is split equally between members appointed by McDonnell and former governor Timothy M. Kaine (D), who is a candidate for U.S. Senate.
McDonnell will appoint at least two board members at the end of this month because of expiring terms. He has the option of reappointing two more, including Dragas.
Bill Leighty, former chief of staff to two Virginia governors, said a governor may not have the legal standing to remove a member whose term has not ended, but he can ask for a resignation. “Whether or not the law can require them to resign, if a governor asks, it’s the Virginia way to resign,” he said.
Dragas, a Virginia Beach developer with two degrees from U-Va., and Vice Rector Mark Kington, president of an Alexandria management company who was in business with Sen. Mark R. Warner (D), are said to have orchestrated the ouster. At least three of the 16 board members were not involved.
Dragas and Sullivan have not returned repeated requests for comments.
Smith said she would like to see Dragas, Kington and other board members removed before she donates any more money. Beneficiaries of her family’s donations include Scott Stadium, the Cavalier Marching Band and the schools of architecture, law, medicine and business. Her name adorns the band building, and her husband’s is on the aquatic and fitness center.
Jane Batten’s late husband, Frank, was a publishing magnate and founder of the Weather Channel. The Batten family has donated $60 million to the Darden School of Business to create an institute to promote entrepreneurial leadership in business and $100 million to establish a school of leadership and public policy.
Robert Sweeney, U-Va.’s senior vice president of development, said about 15 other donors have rescinded pledges. The largest was $5,000, he said.
Sullivan drew criticism for her fundraising efforts. At the end of last year, the university fell $400 million short of a $3 billion fundraising target set in 2004.
The school saw a decrease during the depths of the economic downturn, from September 2008 to November 2010, but giving has rebounded. Sweeney said pledges — now averaging nearly $24 million a month — are in line with those made during Casteen’s tenure. December saw the third-largest amount of pledges — $87 million — in a single month in the school’s history.
At the Sunday meeting, Simon set a defiant tone. He said he wanted to do the right thing and set a good example for his children on Father’s Day by taking a stand against the ouster of Sullivan. He had praised Sullivan previously but stopped well short of criticizing the board that removed her.
“The board actions over the next few days will inform me as to whether the University of Virginia remains the type of institution I’m willing to dedicate my efforts to help lead,” he said.
The board will meet with faculty Monday morning and then hold a special meeting to name an interim president, weeks ahead of the original schedule, in an effort to calm the campus.
Sullivan, who has made no public comment since her ouster, has asked to address the board.
Researcher Alice R. Crites contributed to this report. De Vise reported from Charlottesville.