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Reappointment of Controversial UVa Rector Passes Final Test

The 63-to-33 floor vote on Tuesday in Virginia’s House of Delegates confirmed Helen E. Dragas’s reappointment to a second four-year term as the leader of the University of Virginia’s Board of Visitors. Ms. Dragas had endured withering criticism from Virginia students, faculty members, and alumni for orchestrating a failed campaign to oust the university’s president, Teresa A. Sullivan, last summer. The state’s Republican governor, Robert F. McDonnell, reappointed Ms. Dragas to her post shortly after Ms. Sullivan was reinstated as president, and the State Senate endorsed that move last week.

Appointments to university governing boards are normally uncontroversial, but anger on the U.Va. campus over Sullivan’s forced resignation prompted objections from lawmakers at every stage as Dragas’ appointment moved through the Senate and House.

The opposition centered on a perceived lack of transparency. Sullivan’s resignation was engineered by a small minority of the board, led by Dragas, without any public discussion or vote by the full board. The popular president was reinstated two weeks later after the campus erupted in protest.

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