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Local: Education

House reappoints Helen Dragas to U.Va. board

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Local,Virginia,Education,Steve Contorno

The Virginia House of Delegates reappointed Helen Dragas to another term as head of the University of Virginia's governing board, despite concerns about the embattled school official who led the unsuccessful effort to oust the school's president last year.

Dragas, who will serve four more years as rector of the Board of Visitors, survived a contentious confirmation process in which many lawmakers on both sides of the aisle questioned whether her failed attempt to dismiss popular President Teresa Sullivan last June makes her unfit to lead U.Va. as it deals with the fallout.

Sullivan was reinstated as president two weeks after she was forced to resign by Dragas, who claimed she had the backing of the majority of the board at the time.

The House ultimately reappointed Dragas in a 63-33 vote, though she was the only one of Gov. Bob McDonnell's nominees to spawn dissent.

"It's not a question of likability, it's a question of performance," said Minority Leader David Toscano, a Democrat from Charlottesville, home of the state's flagship campus. "It's not a question of whether we respect what she's done, and she's done a lot of good things, it's a question about governance."

Dragas supporters defended her, insisting she learned from the errors of last year.

"If one word comes to mind when you speak of her, it's integrity," said Del. Barry Knight, R-Virginia Beach. "Maybe it wasn't done right. But what happened? She stood up there. A lot of people cut and run on her. She's been standing there taking all these bullets and arrows for the university."

scontorno@washingtonexaminer.com

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