March 8-21, 2002
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Charles Caravati Timothy Robertson Benjamin Warthen Joseph Wolfe

Former University rector appointed to governor’s panel

By Matt Kelly

Gov. Mark Warner, in an effort to remove politics from the college board selection process, has named a seven-member panel to recommend higher education appointments.

Warner’s panel, which has a one-year term, will recommend candidates for about 18 higher education boards across the state. Warner will select his nominees from these recommendations.

Previous governors have made appointments to college boards generally in consultation with the Secretary of the Commonwealth. This is the first time there has been a separate appointments panel.

Joshua P. Darden, who served as U.Va. rector from 1987 to 1990, was named to the panel, along with Albemarle County resident James B. Murray, former rector of the College of William & Mary.

Deputy Secretary of Education Peter Blake said that the commission would look for “candidates with the highest professionalism” to serve on governor-appointed college boards, including the University’s Board of Visitors.

The terms of four U.Va. board members expired March 1. Dr. Charles M. Caravati completed his second four-year term on the board and must step down, while Timothy B. Robertson, Benjamin P.A. Warthen and Joseph E. Wolfe are eligible for re-appointment.

The U.Va. appointments would top Warner’s priority list, Blake said, though he acknowledged the governor would also have to fill several posts at other schools left vacant if the legislature rejected appointments made by former Gov. Jim Gilmore. Blake predicted Warner would have the Board of Visitors appointments done by the end of March.

University President John T. Casteen III welcomed Warner’s new approach to identifying Board of Visitors candidates.

“Statewide, our boards will benefit by this panel’s work — more prospective members than a solely political process can bring forward, more diverse backgrounds, more careful consideration of various kinds of merit,” he said. “The results will be good for the colleges and good for Virginia.”

The panel will look for candidates with experience on corporate and professional boards, and who are familiar with the mission of higher education, Blake said. Appointments can be tailored to particular situations at the universities, he said, such as recommending a candidate who understands medical issues.

“We also want people who will attend the meetings,” Blake said, noting that some boards — not U.Va.’s — have had to cancel meetings because they have not been able to raise a quorum.

Warner is also concerned about filling the vacancies on time, according to Blake.
Despite his goal, Blake said Warner admitted in announcing the new approach that politics would not be removed from the process completely.

“Higher education faces big challenges in our current budget climate and transition to a knowledge-based economy,” Warner said. “We need people of experience and skill, and we need people committed to ensuring a system of quality higher education is available to all Virginians. I have been concerned for a long time that in some cases, we are not achieving this high standard.”

Joining Darden and Murray on the panel are Marshall Acuff, chair of the board of directors of the Association of the Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges; Paul Torgersen, former president of Virginia Tech; Reginald Brown, former member of the Business Advisory Board of George Mason University and a former member of the Honors Board at James Madison University; Grace Harris, former provost of Virginia Commonwealth University; and Lovey Hammel, current chair of the George Mason University Foundation Board.

Blake said the committee would be empanelled for one year and would then be eligible for reappointment. He said it may be used as a model for panels to recommend members for appointment to other boards.


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