Donors fill boards of Va. universities

Tim Goral's picture

Political giving isn’t a requirement for appointment to higher education boards at Virginia’s top public universities and colleges, but it doesn’t hurt.

A review of Virginia Public Access Project records shows that current board members at the state’s 10 largest public four-year institutions have shelled out about $9.5 million in state political donations in the past 20 years. Members at the biggest schools have doled out tens of thousands of dollars in recent years to the man who appointed them — Gov. Bob McDonnell.

In all, 123 of 155 board members at the top 10 schools have given political money, with 24 of the appointees donating at six-figure levels and higher. Board seats give members power to shape public higher education in Virginia, ranging from ousting and reinstating a school president to deciding on major capital projects to holding sway over long-range planning.

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