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Senate Committee to Discuss Dragas Appointment on Tuesday

January 14, 2013

A Virginia Senate Committee will vote on Governor Bob McDonnell's appointments, including Helen Dragas, as the Rector of the University of Virginia Board of Visitors. Some lawmakers have already said it's time for her step down and school professors agree.

It's been nearly seven months since the attempted ousting of University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan. The decision was spearheaded by Dragas.

Siva Vaidhyanathan is the chair of the Media Studies Department at UVa. He says it's time for the university to move forward without Dragas.

"We fortunately have the strongest possible support of alumni and students and we're not giving up on making sure this university reaches the highest level," said Vaidhyanathan. "To reach the highest level it's going to take the removal of Rector Dragas. She is an embarrassment to this university."

Vaidhyanathan also says he trusts that state leaders will closely look at the events of the past summer and see the seasons why not to reappoint Dragas to the board.

In an interview with The Washington Post, Dragas said: "Since June, the board of visitors and the president have forged a constructive and productive partnership. Even amidst some dissent, we've made real progress. We all make choices. When the board reinstated the president, it also rededicated itself to forging a stronger, more effective partnership with her administration. We have looked forward, not back."

The faculty senate at UVa has decided not to take a public position on the confirmation of the rector.

"We feel we'll be able to work with the rector if she is confirmed and we'll be able to work with whoever is on the board and do the best we can to move the university forward," said Faculty Senate Chair, George Cohen.

Many people agree there is one thing that needs to change in order to move forward.

"I think one of the things that needs to come out of this is a very serious examination about what it takes to get on to these boards," said Vaidhyanathan. "What sorts of person should serve on these boards?"

"We think that the current system, where the governor gets to appoint all the members of the board -- and they tend to be big donors for the governor -- that system needs to change," said Cohen.

The meeting is set for Tuesday in Richmond. There's no word if Dragas will attend.


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