McDonnell reappoints Dragas to UVA Board of Visitors

Governor Bob McDonnell reappointed Rector Helen Dragas to the UVA Board of Visitors in a surprise announcement, June 29, 2012. Cole Geddy/UVa Public Affairs

Governor Bob McDonnell announced six new appointments to the UVA Board of Visitors and ended the suspense surrounding the fate of Rector Helen Dragas, who will remain on the Board for another four years. 

“During her four-year term on the board she has been a strong and dedicated board member, committed to advancing the mission of the university," McDonnell said.

The timing and nature of the new appointments came as a surprise, which McDonnell acknowledged in his statement.

“While normally I would not make a statement concerning board and commission appointments, the events of the last three weeks at the University of Virginia have been anything but ordinary. They compel me to offer a fuller explanation of the reasoning behind my selection of the excellent people I am appointing today to the UVA board," the governor said.

Dragas led the highly-publicized ouster of UVA President Teresa Sullivan, before presiding over her surprise reinstatement at a Board of Visitors meeting on Monday, which turned into a singular show of unity. With Sullivan back in command of the University, there was widespread speculation about Dragas’ future on the Board. In reappointing Dragas, McDonnell defended her role in the proceedings while acknowledging that the Board had handled Sullivan’s removal poorly.

“Just as I was disappointed to see the lack of transparency and communication surrounding the request for the resignation of the first female president of UVa, I am also concerned that the first female rector seemed to become the sole target of recent criticism," McDonnell said. "While there is no doubt that the board made several mistakes in its actions, which it has publicly admitted, this is not a time for recrimination. It’s a time for reconciliation."

Dragas quickly released a statement thanking the governor for his support and pledging her willingness to work with Sullivan.

“Each of us on the Board looks forward to working in a constructive and inclusive way with President Sullivan, along with students, faculty, alumni, and staff on tackling the broad challenges that face the University," Dragas said. "Together, I’m confident that we can preserve and enhance UVA’s greatness for present and future generations.”

McDonnell cited a quote from UVA Faculty Senate chair George Cohen, who told the Richmond-Times Dispatch that his group was willing to work with Dragas, as proof that the she could successfully coexist with Sullivan at the top of the UVA chain of command.

"The university’s tradition is the embrace of inquiry, critical thinking and change, which the rector and many others bring to the table. Ms. Dragas’s serious critique of the challenges facing the university is a voice that must be heard, and can help, in ensuring UVA remains one of the world’s foremost institutions of higher learning," McDonnell said.

In addition to reappointing Dragas, McDonnell named Fran Atkinson, Victoria Harker, Bobbie Kilberg, Dr. Edward Miller, and Dr. Linwood rose to the Board and named William Goodridge and former UVA COO Leonard Sandridge as senior advisors, newly created positions.

Bios of the new appointments are below. More on this story as it comes in.

University of Virginia Board of Visitors Appointments

Frank B. Atkinson of Hanover is the Chairman of McGuire Woods Consulting and previously served in state government as counselor and director of policy for Governor George Allen. He has served on a number of boards and commissions and assisted the Governor’s Higher Ed Commission on behalf of the Virginia Business Higher Education Council. He graduated from the University of Virginia law school in 1982. Frank brings an in-depth knowledge of the workings of higher education and has worked on many of the higher education reforms in Virginia over the past three decades, including the design and implementation of the Grow By Degrees initiative which helped propel the Top Jobs Higher Education Act of 2011. 

Helen E. Dragas of Virginia Beach is the president and chief executive officer of The Dragas Companies, a leading diversified real estate company in the Tidewater region of Virginia, and has served as the rector of the Board of Visitors of the University of Virginia since July 2011. She graduated from the University of Virginia with a bachelor’s degree in foreign affairs, a bachelor’s degree in economics, and an master’s in business administration from The Darden School. Dragas has received several awards and honors, including First Citizen of Virginia Beach in 2009, the 2011 Humanitarian Award from the Center for Inclusive Communities of Virginia, and the Lee Evans Award for Building Management Excellence by the National Association of Homebuilders and Builder Magazine in 1999 and 2009.

Victoria Harker of McLean was recently announced as the new CFO for Gannett Company, Inc., a Fortune 500 global print and broadcast media company. She formerly served at AES Corp., a global power company, where she was chief financial officer and president of global business services. Prior to AES, Harker was acting CFO and treasurer at MCI. In addition to her new position at Gannett, Harker also served on the corporate board of directors for Darden Restaurants (DRI) and Xylem (formerly ITT). Harker received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia in 1986 and holds a master’s in business administration degree from American University. As chair of the UVA Alumni Association, Victoria will bring an important and critical perspective to the board, and her senior level background in finance will also be an asset.

Bobbie Kilberg of McLean is president and CEO of the Northern Virginia Technology Council. She was a White House Fellow, an attorney with the law firm of Arnold and Porter, vice president for academic affairs at Mount Vernon College, director of the Aspen Institute’s Project on the Future of Private Philanthropy, and a senior member of the White House staff under three administrations. Bobbie served on the U.S. Naval Academy Board of Visitors and recently completed 11 years of service on the George Washington University Board of Trustees. She is a graduate of Yale Law School, Columbia University and Vassar College. Among her children and their spouses, there are four degrees from the University of Virginia, and a son is presently a student at the school of law.

Dr. Edward Miller of Baltimore, Maryland was named chief executive officer of Johns Hopkins Medicine, the 13th dean of The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and vice president for medicine of The Johns Hopkins University in January 1997. Under his leadership, both The Johns Hopkins Hospital and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine continue to be ranked among the best in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, and the school continues to rank at the top in NIH research funding. Miller was asked to serve in an ex-officio capacity last year by the governor due to his knowledge and background in healthcare administration. The General Assembly in the 2012 session added a seat to the board for a member with an extensive academic medical background.

Dr. Linwood Rose of Harrisonburg served for 14 years as the president of James Madison University. He is retiring on June 30. Under Rose’s tenure as president, James Madison experienced immense growth in size and quality, with enrollment growing by 37 percent. As president, he served on the Governor’s Higher Education Advisory Committee and the Governor’s Higher Education Commission. He recently served as chairman of the Council of Presidents for Virginia. He earned his bachelor’s degree in economics from Virginia Tech, his master’s degree in educational administration and supervision from the University of Tennessee, and his doctorate in higher education administration from the University of Virginia.

Senior Advisors to the Board

Mr. William H. Goodwin, Jr. of Richmond is a former member of the University of Virginia Board of Visitors. Goodwin is currently chairman of the board of CCA Industries Inc, a holding company whose assets include several hospitality businesses including The Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, Kiawah Island Golf Resort in Kiawah Island, South Carolina, and The Hermitage Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee—all of which are five-star properties—Sea Pines Resort in Hilton Head, South Carolina and Keswick Hall in Keswick, Virginia. In addition, CCA owns and operates several other businesses, real estate holdings and investments. Goodwin holds a degree in mechanical engineering from Virginia Tech and a master’s degree in business from the University of Virginia Darden School of Business.

Mr. Leonard W. Sandridge, Jr. of Charlottesville retired from the University of Virginia in June 2011, after serving for 44 years. He previously served executive vice president and chief operating officer for UVA president John Casteen. He began his service to the university on the staff of the internal auditor. He served as an assistant to university comptroller, treasurer and director of budget. In 1986, Sandridge was appointed to the post of executive assistant to the president, a position he held simultaneously with director of budget. In 1989, he was named vice president for business and finance, and then was named senior vice president and chief financial officer. In 1993, Sandridge’s position was expanded to executive vice president and chief financial officer, where he served until his promotion to executive vice president and chief operating officer.

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