Category Archives: Race, Equity and Diversity

Just Askin’

by Walter Smith

What is the mission of the University of Virginia’s Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion?

You can try reading the Office’s “Mission” here, but that won’t clear anything up. The document is so loaded with jargon and fuzzy thinking that it won’t mean much to anyone untrained in diversity speak.

I have a few questions. Continue reading

UVa Memorial Illuminates a Neglected Part of Virginia’s Past


by James A. Bacon

The memorial to the slaves who labored at the University of Virginia is a quiet, dignified and moving tribute to the Virginians whose contributions to the university went unappreciated and unrecognized for too long. Yesterday my wife and I visited the memorial, which was dedicated almost a year ago, for the first time. It is a wonderful example of the “additive” approach to remembering our past — adding new layers of understanding — as opposed to the purgative approach of blotting out the remembrance of those who made significant contributions to society but whose association with slavery, the Confederacy or segregation offend modern-day sensibilities. Continue reading

Surprise — Zero Intellectual Diversity in Diversity Speaker Series!


The University of Virginia perpetuated the damaging stereotype of African- American society as an intellectual monoculture today with the release of speakers in its upcoming Racial Equity Speaker series. The three speakers represent a narrow range of black views on the issue of racism in America. Continue reading

Will Historians One Day Contextualize the Contextualizers?

by Walter Smith

The Virginia Magazine newsletter recently featured this article on two newly formed commissions: one to articulate the university’s commitment to free expression and inquiry, the other to pursue recommendations of the Racial Equity Task Force regarding the renaming of buildings and memorials.

Regarding the first commission, the fact that an internationally respected institution founded by Thomas Jefferson, perhaps history’s greatest advocate for free speech, finds it necessary to study the issue is damning on its own terms. No further comment needed.

My primary complaint dwells on the naming and renaming commission. To start with, I cannot believe a name of an inanimate building, thing or place is truly “harmful” to any thinking person. You could name the buildings after Hitler, Mao, Stalin, Idi Amin, Pol Pot, Nebuchadnezzar, Genghis Khan, or any other offensive person you can think of, and I would not be “harmed.” I might think you were stupid, but I wouldn’t be harmed. Continue reading

Did UVa Stack the Deck in Its Lawn Selection Process?

by James A. Bacon

It is deemed a great honor to be one of the 47 fourth-year students at the University of Virginia awarded a residence on the Lawn, Thomas Jefferson’s architectural masterpiece and World Heritage site. A committee of 60 students selects the residents from a pool of applicants, in theory based on their record of “unselfish service and achievement in their respective fields of activity and academics.”

But when the Cavalier Daily published an article yesterday providing the racial/ethnic background of the individuals who were offered a spot on the Lawn next year, it didn’t emphasize their accomplishments. Rather, drawing from data provided by Dean of Students Allen Groves, the article focused on the increased demographic “diversity” of the Lawn residents.

“Students of Color” received nearly 60% of the offers this year, compared to only 30% last year, reported the student-run newspaper.

The dramatic one-year shift in the racial/ethnic composition of Lawn residents raises the question of whether race and ethnicity has become an explicit but not-stated-publicly criteria for selection. Continue reading

UVa Lifetime Virtue Signaling

by Walter Smith

“Lifetime learning” sounds pretty innocuous, right? Maybe even charitable and aspirational?

To be fair, the University of Virginia lifetime-learning program does offer some courses that provide an opportunity to learn something.  The two offerings by Professor Ragosta on Patrick Henry look interesting.

But there is a difference between “learning” and “indoctrination. And the “Governor’s Summit on Equitable Collaboration,” hosted by UVa’s lifetime learning program, is shaping up to be an embarrassment for an institution of higher learning whose purported goals are to be “good and great.”

The toolkit for “transforming community spaces” sounds more like the manual for a Red Guard reeducation camp than a lifetime learning experience. Continue reading

Orwellian Aspirations, a False Alumni Association Narrative, and Adult Supervision at UVa

by James C. Sherlock

Sometimes things come together that confirm one’s worst fears but improve hope for the future simultaneously. Such a turning point happened with me not long after UVa’s alumni magazine, Virginia (Winter Edition 2020), arrived at my house earlier this month.

The first story in the magazine was a piece written by Richard Gard (Col ’81), alumni association vice president for communications and editor of Virginia. It was titled “BOV Blesses Racial Equity Plan — More Diversity, Less Confederacy.” Catchy.

It purported to update alumni on “Audacious Future: Commitment Required,” the report of the University’s racial equity task force, and the Board of Visitors’ specifically partial and entirely unfunded endorsement of that report.

The members of that task force were:

  • Kevin McDonald, Vice President for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Community Partnerships 
  • Ian H. Solomon, Dean of the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy
  • Barbara Brown Wilson, Assistant Professor of Urban and Environmental Planning and co-founder and Faculty Director of UVA’s Equity Center

Continue reading

UVa Builds Scholarship Endowment to Half-Billion Dollars

Jim Ryan

by James A. Bacon

Over the past four years the University of Virginia has raised $500 million, enough to endow 350 undergraduate and graduate scholarships, President Jim Ryan informed the Board of Visitors Friday. He highlighted two programs in particular that share the goal of “fostering excellence and diversity of the student population, and ensuring their success.”

The University Achievement Awards, inaugurated during the presidency of John T. Casteen are given to Virginia students who demonstrate outstanding leadership and character while overcoming personal hardship. The Blue Ridge Scholars program, launched in 2014 with a $4 million gift from alumnus John Griffin, supports undergraduate students with exceptional academic promise and significant financial need.

Continue reading

UVa Vice Provost’s Tough Job: Recruiting More Blacks to a “Racist” University

Stephen Farmer

by James A. Bacon

Pity poor Stephen Farmer. The newly appointed vice provost for enrollment at the University of Virginia has a thankless job: fulfilling the goal of admitting more African Americans and Hispanics, even as Virginia’s flagship university has inadvertently branded itself as a racist institution.

Farmer’s appointment was highlighted in the most recent issue Virginia, the UVa alumni magazine. A UVa alumnus, Farmer was recruited from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he was vice provost for enrollment and undergraduate admissions. With a record of attracting more first-generation students and students from underrepresented minorities, Farmer has made “remarkable contributions to the shape of the class,” says Provost M. Elizabeth Magill.

Taking charge of both undergraduate admissions and student financial services, Farmer will build new strategies for attracting applicants and supporting students’ financial needs. “There’s a real logic in bringing them together,” Magill said. Continue reading

Anatomy of a Racial Incident at UVa

Jeffrey Leopold

by James A. Bacon

Jeffrey Leopold, a University of Virginia assistant professor, was assigned this fall to teach “COMM 1800 — Foundations of Commerce,” a prerequisite for students entering the McIntire School of Commerce. On October 22 he lectured the class on the topic of globalism. His purpose was to explain the necessity of adopting a “global mindset,” which among other things, required appreciating cultural differences.

Leopold kicked off his lecture, as he commonly did, by telling a joke. For this particular class, he told one that played on stereotypes of peoples around the world. It went like this:

The United Nations conducted a survey worldwide. The only question asked was: “Would you please give us your honest opinion about solutions to the food shortage in the rest of the world?” The survey was a complete failure…

In Africa they did not know what “food” meant.

In China they did not know what “honest” meant.

In Europe they did not know what “shortage” meant.

Continue reading