Governor to entrenched UVa. board: Get this done

(WTOP/Paul D. Shinkman)

WASHINGTON – The Virginia governor on Tuesday backed up the threats he issued last week to coerce the University of Virginia’s governing board into reaching a swift conclusion following the uproar over their ousting President Teresa Sullivan.

Gov. Bob McDonnell asked for a transparent, clear, unified statement about the future of the school’s leadership by Tuesday, or he would follow through on his threat to ask for letters of resignation from the Board of Visitors.

“My goal is to have finality,” he said while speaking on WTOP’s “Ask the Governor” program. If members of the board fail to deliver a statement by Tuesday, he will ask for their resignations on Wednesday.

“It’s not my job directly to rate the performance of a (university) president,” he said, emphasizing that he was not instructing the board on how to vote but admitted that graduates have too much debt and that “the status quo is not good enough.”

Rector Helen Dragas, who has acknowledged that the situation was handled badly, also issued a statement last Thursday elaborating on why she thought Sullivan needed to go. She cited a lack of progress on funding issues, online education and other pressing needs.

These concerns of the board are “bona fide,” McDonnell says. He feels pressure to keep the university’s image untarnished on the national and international stages.

“The Chinese and others aren’t just waiting around to see if we’re doing well,” he said, “It’s a competitive world.”

He also added this debate should not become a talking point as former Virginia governors Tim Kaine, a Democrat, and George Allen, a Republican, face off to replace Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., in Congress.

Learn more about the governor’s efforts to keep the Redskins’ training camp and corporate headquarters in the Old Dominion, his thoughts on the Supreme Court’s immigration ruling and other issues in our Live Blog:

10:57 a.m., speaking about hunger in Virginia:

Between Memorial Day and July 4th, I’ve issued a challenge for businesses all throughout the state to donate food.

10:55 a.m., speaking about the vice presidential vetting process:

I’m not going to discuss it.

“I’m going to leave the speculation up to you pundits.”

10:52 a.m., speaking about the Supreme Court ruling on immigration:

“The bigger point is there is real frustration in the state that this administration, while promising comprehensive immigration solutions, has failed,” and not focused on basic law enforcement principles internally.

“There’s a lot of frustration among governors nationally about this administration.”

We already have a lot of SB 1070 in Virginia, such as a law that says if someone is illegally present and charged with a crime, there is a presumption they will not be given bail to make sure they aren’t a flight risk.

“The general frustration is the lack of enforcement of existing federal laws…it’s not the policies”

10:47 a.m., speaking about paying Dan Snyder to keep the Redskins corporate headquarters and training camp in Virginia:

We don’t give money to individuals, we give money to localities or to corporations as incentives to stay in Virginia.

We put together a package of about $4 million.

10:45 a.m., speaking about job safety for returning military veterans:

We are the most veteran-friendly state in the country.

We have about 15,000 National Guardsmen who have come back from multiple deployments.

Along with laws that secure veterans jobs, we’re working to make sure employers know about the management skills that veterans possess.

10:44 a.m., speaking about HOT lanes:

Progress is going well, but that’s just the start. Our transportation plan is about getting things done and not making excuses, with bonds and tolls and other sources of revenue.

10:41 a.m., speaking about his job creation plan:

The current pace provided by corporations isn’t enough for job creation. We need the next Bill Gates or Steve Jobs to come along and spur entrepreneurship.

We’re trying to showcase companies that are creating jobs.

I just came back from Germany, where companies are now planning to invest in Virginia.

“(It’s) the nature of international business: You have to look people in the eye and say ‘Virginia is the place for business.'”

10:31 a.m., speaking about nominations to the UVa. Board of Visitors, including Rector Helen Dragas:

(Dragas was appointed by former Va. Gov. Tim Kaine, a Democrat)

I’m not going to make any announcements today. I didn’t want to inject any politics.

This is the first woman president and rector of UVa. This is the first problem with “the family” at this university.

Discourse about education is timely. We shouldn’t be demonizing the rector of the board.

Only the board is equipped with all the facts, not the governor, or donors or newspaper editorial boards.

Once a governor starts micromanaging boards, our infrastructure “is shot.” We might as well not appoint these people.

This should not be an issue as Kaine faces off against Allen, R, in the Senate race.

The board’s concerns last week were “bona fide.” These were metrics we should use to analyze all universities in America.

10:20 a.m., speaking about the University of Virginia controversy and the board vote about ousted President Teresa Sullivan:

I told the board last week this matter needed to be resolved quickly, to create certainty for UVa., it needed to be transparent and the board needed to have a clear, unified statement about the future of leadership.

If they failed to do that today, I’m planning to ask for their resignations tomorrow.

“I’m not instructing them how to vote.”

“Do what’s best for the short- and long-term interests of the university.”

“I thought the process could have been handled better.”

The board is made up of half Kaine appointees and half McDonnell appointees.

“My goal is to have finality.”

“It’s not my job directly to rate the performance of a president.” I have about 300 boards and commissions I appoint people to for higher education. There’s no way I can competently appraise her performance.

Preparing our students is important for America’s future.

“The Chinese and others aren’t just waiting around to see if we’re doing well. It’s a competitive world.”

However, young people are in too much debt. “While we’re great, status quo is not good enough”

“We’re moving in the right direction…but there’s still a lot more that needs to be done.”

WTOP’s Paul D. Shinkman contributed to this report. Follow Paul and WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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