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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Early Edition Splat-ter of the Week: The UVA Board of Visitors!

Extra, extra! Today we bring you "Splat-ter of The Week: The Early Edition" because, frankly, we couldn’t wait until Friday to grab another analogy and torture it to the point of violating the Geneva Conventions.  

Though we received a number of worthy nominations, no one could come close to out-splatting the UVA Board of Visitors.  This group of splat-ters is led by Team Captain Helen Dragas, who is also the proud owner of the Second Best Villain Moniker Ever, finishing just behind Cruella Deville.

In the interest of journalistic integrity, we confess right up front that we graduated from UVA in 1993 and have a real soft spot for Mr. Jefferson’s academical village.  (WAHOOWA!) We tend to resent any threat to the school’s proud traditions and all that it stands for, such as the right to streak The Lawn. 

So when we learned a couple weeks ago that Teresa Sullivan, the University’s first female president, tendered her resignation with no warning and with three years to go on her contract, we were as concerned as any alum. 

For the two people who still haven't grasped that Charlottesville is the epicenter of the universe and, therefore, haven’t been following this story as closely as they should, here's a quick recap before we launch into our award presentation.  

Dragas, the current Rector of the Board of Visitors (and first female to occupy this post at UVA), had begun to fret about the future of Virginia’s flagship university.  Every time she grabbed her binoculars to take a gander at the horizon from her post on the deck, she saw black clouds that could only signal rough seas ahead. 

Based on her forecast, the Rector believed the conditions would cause the boat to take on water, and in amounts that couldn’t be bailed out with one of those cut off plastic milk jugs.  The last thing Dragas wanted was a three hour tour that ended with the boat wrecked and washed up on a campy sitcom.

We’re told the Rector’s fears for the seaworthiness of the boat stemmed from larger concerns about its Skipper’s ability to guide it through a storm.  To Dragas, the Skipper looked like someone who wouldn’t grip the helm firmly but instead would let it whirl around repeatedly like the central prop on the "Wheel of Fortune" set.  No doubt the Rector had forked over a lot of dough for her seat on this boat, so she wasn’t about to just sit there passively like Mrs. Thurston Howell III.  Instead, she plotted a mutiny. 
Dragas met in secret with the boat’s purser and bartender.  She convinced them that her concern for the Skipper’s navigational skills was legitimate.  Under the Love Boat Rules of Parliamentary Procedure, “yes”es from these critical crew members gave her the votes she needed to oust the Skipper without consulting anyone else. 

So while the passengers were busy sipping daiquiris and debating which side was “starboard,” Dragas pulled Sullivan aside and presented her with two options: Walk the plank or get tossed over the side of the boat in a burlap sack.  Sullivan opted for the short stroll.  Dragas wanted to ensure as dignified an exit as possible, so she asked Sullivan to please refrain from doing a canopener off the end of the plank.  And just like that, the Skipper jumped ship.

Sullivan made a pretty big splash when she hit the water, despite Dragas’s efforts to prevent that.  The boat's crew and passengers were shocked and dismayed.  They liked their Skipper.  She hadn’t been heading up the boat for very long, but already she’d managed to keep it from getting sucked too far into the squall of online learning.  This group hadn't had any major doubts about where the boat was headed. 

They pressed Dragas to explain why she sent the Skipper overboard.  Dragas made some vague claims that Sullivan had plotted the boat’s course using a paper map instead of GPS.  

New of Sullivan’s departure plunged the boat into major chaos (and into the national news), resulting in large-scale protests, major public outcry, and the resignation of some key University talent.  Splat. 

Dragas stood firm, seemingly oblivious to the fact that her misguided bounceback initiative had sent her and the Board straight into the dirt and threatened to run the whole ship aground, too.  Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell finally pointed this out.  In a public statement he gently suggested that the Board hurry up and restore some order to the boat, or grab their life jackets and get ready to swim.

This Tuesday, the BOV convened to decide Sullivan’s fate.  They voted unanimously to reinstate the popular Skipper.  Apparently Dragas regretted the upheaval she caused and issued the following heartfelt apology: “Turns out the black clouds I saw on the horizon were just specks of dirt on the lenses of my binoculars. Ooops, my bad!” 

So, step up and get your Golden Pancake, UVA BOV! We’re glad you rose from the dirt and dusted yourselves off before you took the whole boat down with you. Wahoowa!


  1. Cute summary, and I enjoyed it, but Dragas didn't abstain, she voted with the rest of the board to keep Sullivan (still with no real explanation).

  2. You're kind to have: 1) read it; and 2) pointed out my goof, which is now corrected. Thanks again!

  3. Sheesh, we leave the place and look what happens!