Former UVA Rector criticizes $2.3B slush fund, demands more public accountability
- Businesswoman and former University of Virginia Board of Visitors Rector Helen Dragas wrote in The Washington Post that UVA is becoming privatized, which annually prohibits thousands of students from entering the university.
- She says the university has increased tuition costs by 30% in the last three years, while maintaining a $2.3 billion "slush fund" vaguely earmarked for marketing and operational costs.
- Dragas says the state legislature should demand more transparency and accountability from its flagship institution.
UVA leadership again makes headlines for executive acrimony, but this time, the scandal involves a potential betrayal of the public’s financial good, with charges levied by a former board rector. Dragas’ claims are set against the backdrop of the federal government questioning how schools actually use large endowments, and if they should be paying more in taxes on investment earnings and property taxes.
Board members making serious charges against a school can have real implications in philanthropy, recruitment and campus climate, as has been demonstrated at UVA, Howard University and others. Presidents and trustees should seek regular opportunities to convene outside of board meetings to build relationships and understanding with each other, so they all can learn to manage as one unit.