Changes at the Top: Wynne, Abramson to Lead Board of Visitors

June 19, 2009 — With the July 1 turn of a two-year cycle, the University of Virginia's Board of Visitors will have new leadership.

John O. "Dubby" Wynne of Virginia Beach, who was elected vice rector two years ago, will begin his two-year term as the University's 40th rector, or chairman of the board. He succeeds W. Heywood Fralin of Roanoke, who will remain on the board until 2012.

Wynne said that he is looking forward to the challenges of the coming year, noting that he and the board will preside over a number of major University leadership changes. Last week, University President John T. Casteen III announced that he would step down on Aug. 1, 2010.

"The University has flourished under the extraordinary leadership of John Casteen and his senior leadership team," Wynne said. "It will be the responsibility of this board to find an individual who can pick up President Casteen's mantle and build on the work that he has accomplished these past 20 years."

The Rector and Visitors serve as U.Va.'s corporate board, and are responsible for the long-term planning of the University. The board approves the policies and budget of the University, and is entrusted with the preservation of the University's many traditions, including the Honor System.

The board today unanimously elected Daniel R. Abramson, an Alexandria real estate developer, to succeed Wynne as vice rector. In 2011, he will become the 41st rector.

"It is with great humility that I accept the position of vice rector," Abramson said at the conclusion of the vote. "I am humbled by the support and confidence that the board has entrusted in me, and I pledge to conduct myself with thoughtfulness in working with the new rector and all of my fellow board members as together we continue to move the University forward."

Wynne is the retired president and chief executive officer of Landmark Communications Inc. of Norfolk. He received his B.A. from Princeton University in 1967 and his J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1971. He previously served on the Board of Managers of the U.Va. Alumni Association. He also has served as a member of Princeton's board.

Wynne's civic and professional affiliations include serving as vice chairman of the Council on Virginia's Future, chairman of the executive committee of the Virginia Business Higher Ed Council, member of the Governor's Commission on Efficiency and Effectiveness, and a member of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Board of Trustees. He is also vice chairman of the Norfolk Foundation.

He previously served as a member of the executive committee of the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges and of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia. At Princeton, where he is a trustee emeritus, he was chairman of the Academic Affairs Committee and member of the Executive Committee, and served as co-chairman of Princeton's Aspire Campaign.

While serving on the University of Virginia's board, Wynne has chaired the University's Investment Management Company, as well as two of the board's special committees, including Institutional Planning and Transition Planning. He was a member of the Educational Policy committee, the Special Committee on Foundations, Special Committee on Diversity, and the Subcommittee on Legislative and Executive Affairs. He also currently chairs the Finance Committee.

Abramson received a B.A. in psychology from the University of Virginia in 1970. He captained the varsity soccer team in 1969 and earned U.Va.'s Stanley Lerner Memorial Trophy for Leadership in Athletics.

After serving as an officer in the U.S. Navy from 1970 to 1973 – including a tour of duty in Vietnam – he became principal of Abramson Properties, a real estate development firm in Northern Virginia and Washington. He continues to be a member of numerous civic boards in Alexandria and elsewhere in Northern Virginia, including president of the Alexandria Housing Development Corp., the city's nonprofit affordable housing corporation. He serves on the Governor's Foreclosure Prevention Task Force and is a trustee of the Inova Alexandria Hospital Foundation.

He was a member of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, and has taken an active role in alumni affairs at the University, including current service on the Board of Trustees of the Virginia Athletics Foundation.

A member of the board since 2006, Abramson currently serves on several of its committees, including Buildings and Grounds, Student Affairs and Athletics, External Affairs, the Committee on the University of Virginia's College at Wise and the Special Committee on Diversity.

"It has been my pleasure – and honor – to serve as rector of the University's board these past two years," said Fralin, the outgoing rector. "We have an outstanding board that works together to further the best interests of the University, its students, staff and faculty. This board has accomplished a great deal, working in tandem with the University's administration, and I believe that Mr. Wynne and Mr. Abramson will make a strong leadership team as they help to guide the University in the coming years."

In addition to the leadership changes, the terms of four members of the Board of Visitors are due to expire July 1. The governor has the option of reappointing three members – A. MacDonald Caputo of Greenwich, Conn.; Alan A. Diamonstein of Newport News; and Vincent J. Mastrocco Jr. of Norfolk – to a second four-year term.

Former rector Thomas F. Farrell II will complete his second term and rotate off the board. Farrell will continue to serve on the Jefferson Scholars Foundation Board. He recently was appointed to the College at Wise Advisory Board.