Helen Dragas of the University of Virginia Board of Visitors sat down for an interview with the Washington Post in late June as she prepared to make the transition from leading the board to being a regular member. She also answered the following questions in writing:
Your tenure as rector at UVA will end at the end of the month, and you will stay on as a board member. What sort of role will you play on the board going forward? Do you think your involvement with the university will change?
I want to continue as a volunteer to make a contribution, though the role of rector is obviously different. It comes with a lot more responsibilities and restraints than those of a regular board member.
We are still tackling the same big challenge: How do we innovate to provide a world-class education at a price that Virginia families can afford? I want to help drive a solution to that problem.
You were the university’s first female rector. What do you hope your legacy will be?
That will have to be for others to decide, but I started out just wanting long-term strategic and financial planning to be actual operating principles, not just PR buzz words. Sadly, UVA has been drifting and even losing ground in recent years, and the independent Art & Science assessment said that pretty plainly.
It validated the board’s sense of urgency to have us operating from a long-term plan that pushes us to set and keep real priorities. It’s the only path to affordable excellence in this evolving world.
The good news is that we’re now on the path to accomplishing this work.