Helen Dragas Passes Senate Committee Confirmation Vote - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Helen Dragas Passes Senate Committee Confirmation Vote

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In a 12-3 vote late Tuesday afternoon, members of the Virginia Senate Privileges and Elections Committee confirmed Governor McDonnell's June reappointment of Virginia Beach homebuilder Helen Dragas as rector of the University of Virginia Board of Visitors.

A vote will now go to the Senate floor, and then through the same confirmation process in the House of Delegates. Both houses must approve gubernatorial appointments by a majority vote.

During the past nine months, students and members of the UVA faculty have called for Dragas' resignation for her role in the failed attempt to fire UVA President Teresa Sullivan. After the governor tapped Dragas for reappointment at the end of June, disgruntled stakeholders began calling on Virginia's General Assembly to deny her confirmation.

Three Democrats on the Senate committee opposed Dragas' reappointment, including 25th District Senator Creigh Deeds, who represents Charlottesville and parts of Albemarle County. But most members seemed to trust the governor's decision to reappoint the embattled rector, citing a desire to move the university forward and not dwell on the past.

Senator Mark Obenshain, committee chair, voted in favor of Dragas' confirmation. He said in a statement, "In taking up gubernatorial appointments, the Senate owes great deference to the governor's choice, and the committee acted with the knowledge that Helen Dragas enjoys extraordinary bipartisan support."

This also comes after a national accreditation group placed UVA on warning in December, in light of the events that led to the ouster of President Teresa Sullivan.

Senator Deeds says he wasn't surprised by Tuesday's vote, but maintains his position.

"The whole issue should be the University of Virginia. How do we move forward with the University of Virginia?" he said. "Instead, we've been hung up on this personality. My view is, until the faces change on the board of visitors, we're not going to be able to move past the controversy of this past June."

All of the governor's reappointments - including that of Rector Dragas - will now go to the Senate floor for a confirmation vote, which could happen as early as Wednesday.

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