Gov. Ralph Northam appointed Peter Farrell, a former lawmaker and a son of Dominion Energy CEO Tom Farrell, to the governing board of Virginia Commonwealth University.

Peter Farrell of Henrico, a Republican, was elected to the House of Delegates in 2011 and opted not to seek re-election in 2017. He is the managing partner of Tuckahoe Holdings, an investment firm he founded in 2015 with his brother.

He will replace Colette McEachin on the board of visitors; she left because of her election Nov. 5 as Richmond commonwealth’s attorney.

The appointment, announced Friday afternoon, strengthens ties between VCU and Dominion at a time when the elder Farrell is driving a plan by a nonprofit, NH District Corp., to redevelop public property in downtown and build a new arena.

VCU President Mike Rao, an ardent supporter of the arena plan, penned an op-ed in the Richmond Times-Dispatch in January that was drafted by the developers, prompting ethical questions about Rao attaching his name to a writing that wasn’t drafted by his staff.

Initial plans submitted last year by NH District Corp. called for 475,000 square feet of research and office space and mentioned VCU.

Peter Farrell said he has no involvement in the NH District Corp. plan, and his focus on the board will include keeping strong the School of Business, from which he earned an MBA.

“It’s a great honor to do it,” he said of the appointment.

Tom Farrell was previously on VCU’s board of visitors and in 2015 had been elected to serve as vice rector, but asked then-Gov. Terry McAuliffe not to reappoint him, citing schedule conflicts.

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