Leadership & Governance

AAUP Has 'Guarded Optimism' About Shared Governance at U. of Virginia

June 20, 2013

A year after the ouster and reinstatement of Teresa A. Sullivan as president of the University of Virginia, an investigative panel of the American Association of University Professors sees reason for "guarded optimism" about the state of shared governance on the campus.

In a statement released on Thursday, the AAUP panel cited a change in leadership on the university's Board of Visitors as a positive development.

"The committee now concludes with guarded optimism about adherence to the principles of shared governance in the months ahead," the statement reads. "We expect the association's file on the case to be kept open until it can be said that our optimism was justified."

Helen E. Dragas, a real-estate developer in the Virginia Beach area who led the charge last summer to fire Ms. Sullivan and later supported the president's reinstatement, ends her term as rector of the board on June 30. George K. Martin, a lawyer in Richmond, Va., will succeed Ms. Dragas, who was appointed to a second four-year term on the board in January.

The AAUP panel's statement comes more than three months after the same group issued a scathing report about the board's firing of Ms. Sullivan.

The panel's change of view, members said, was directly tied to the end of Ms. Dragas's term as rector.

"Were she to remain in office," the statement reads, "the investigating committee's current conclusions on the board's role in university governance would likely not differ greatly from the conclusions as of March 1."

The AAUP's Committee on College and University Governance and the University of Virginia's AAUP chapter concurred with the panel's statement.