McDonnell statement on U.Va. board appointments

Posted at 4:19 PM, Jun 29, 2012
and last updated 2012-06-29 16:19:12-04

Statement By Governor McDonnell Regarding Appointments to the Board of Visitors to the University of Virginia

“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 university has emerged from a challenging time, and remains an extraordinary, vibrant place that is a beacon of advanced learning across the world.  And I am encouraged that, after the reinstatement of Dr. Sullivan, the tone at the university changed quickly this week from one of passionate disagreement in the family to one of willing collaboration. I thank the administration, faculty, alumni and student body for their engagement and desire to have the school they love continue to grow and excel.

“While some still have questions about the reasons for the board’s action, and others about the school’s strategic direction, the recent debate puts the university in a unique and positive position for frank dialogue and progress that most organizations never encounter.  UVa now has the opportunity for an honest self-assessment to refine and improve upon a long-term vision for the university, and build on its exceptional reputation with candor, clarity, and collaboration.   The school is being watched by all of those interested in the future of our nation’s public universities.

“This is not the first time that Virginia has been in a position to serve as a national leader. Therefore, it is imperative that as this conversation ensues the board evaluate and improve upon its own transparency, operating procedures, and communications with the faculty, administration, students and the public. Full transparency, constant civility and open dialogue will be crucial as the university evaluates its progress in meeting the goals set by the board, president and legislature. 

“This year I have six appointments to the University of Virginia Board of Visitors. Cognizant of the need for varied and wide-ranging voices, I have appointed competent professionals to the board who come from the fields of academia, business, law and technology, and who can, while bringing different backgrounds and philosophies to the table, work well together in finding common ground and forging a shared path for Mr. Jefferson’s University.

“Today, I have appointed the former President of James Madison University and the former CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine to the board. I have also placed the chairwoman of the alumni association on the board. Another selection is well-known as the architect of many of the Commonwealth’s higher education reforms over the past several decades. Finally, I have appointed two female CEOs who are well-respected in their fields.

“I have also reappointed Helen Dragas to the board. Ms. Dragas was appointed to the board by my predecessor Governor Tim Kaine in 2008 and elected rector by the board’s members in 2011.  Prior to that appointment, she had served on the Commonwealth Transportation Board and the State Council for Higher Education in Virginia, in both cases through appointments made by Governor Mark Warner. 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.

“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. 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. I have been heartened by recent statements made by president Sullivan, the Board of Visitors and by the faculty senate chair about their ability to work with the rector. As Faculty Senate Chairman George Cohen said to The Richmond Times-Dispatch, “She (Dr. Sullivan) said she can work with the rector. I think we can work with the rector as well.” That kind of commitment to unity, healing and advancement is crucial to the university’s success in maintaining itself as a pillar of higher education to pursue the growth of knowledge and advance the human condition. Today’s reappointment is made in that spirit and with that purpose. I look forward to the board and administration moving forward together.  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.

“In addition to the six official appointments I am making to the Board of Visitors, I have also asked Leonard Sandridge, a former executive vice-president of the university, and Bill Goodwin, a former board member and business leader, to serve as senior advisors to the board.  Mr. Sandridge and Mr. Goodwin are very well-known and well-respected in the UVa community. Their roles will be to provide the board with wise counsel on an array of matters and to assist the university in solving strategic and communications challenges, based on their decades of institutional knowledge and understanding of the university. It is my hope that Mr. Sandridge and Mr. Goodwin will, at the board’s discretion and upon request, facilitate improved dialogue and collaboration in implementing the reforms in the Top Jobs 21 legislation, unanimously approved in 2011 by the General Assembly. It is also my hope that they will provide advice to help address the pressing items of concerns outlined by the board in recent weeks, and serve as trusted, experienced voices who will help the university grow, improve, and innovate in the years ahead. Both men understand the illustrious history of UVa; both men are committed to building an even more illustrious future. Their wisdom, counsel and advice will prove invaluable to the board.

“I am confident that in the years ahead the board, president, administration, donors, faculty, staff and students, and the larger UVa family across this Commonwealth, country and globe will work together with a renewed spirit of cooperation to develop solutions to the challenges facing UVa and, in fact, facing all public higher education institutions across America. The University of Virginia will lead this nation into the future, just as it has led it through the past.”

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. 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.