Year-End UVa Update from Bert Ellis

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of my fellow Wahoos:

I am extremely pleased with the results of the Virginia elections. Governor Youngkin and Lt. Governor Winsome Sears and Attorney Gen Jason Miyares are all very interested in re-focusing UVA and other colleges and K-12 schools in Virginia on educating students and not brainwashing them with the Woke/CRT/DEI mantras that have overtaken UVA and almost all other colleges and K-12 schools in Virginia and across our country.

The most immediate opportunities for the Governor are his selections for the Board of Visitors. Over the next four years, he can totally replace the Board with his nominees. There are 19 total members of the Board of Visitors, 17 of whom serve 2-year terms and one faculty rep and one student rep each serving 1-year terms.

The Board of Visitors hires/fires the President and manages the overall strategy of the University and the University Health System. This current Board are all appointees of either former Governor McAuliffe or outgoing (thank heaven) Governor Northam and are responsible for letting the University make the outrageous changes that have been made over the tenures of Presidents Sullivan and Ryan. Continue reading

Diversity Statements Snuff Out Academic Freedom

by Allan Stam

Why should you care about faculty review policies at the University of Virginia and other public Virginia universities? You should care because they affect which faculty are likely to stay at a university and which faculty are likely to move on. In other words, they affect who will teach your children and grandchildren. 

You should want universities to keep professors who conduct state-of-the-art research and excel at teaching their scholarly discipline. But that’s not what you’re going to get with the new guidelines issued by the UVa College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. (See the previous post.)

Pay raises and the annual reviews that affect them are powerful administrative tools that universities use to incentivize faculty efforts. Given that there are only so many hours in a day, faculty allocate their time towards areas that their employers reward and away from those that they do not. Continue reading

Enforcing the New Diversity Dogma

by James A. Bacon

This month University of Virginia departments embark upon a four- to five-month “peer review” of faculty members. The stakes are high. Scores from the review will affect merit raises and prospects for promotion.

New this year: Twenty percent of the scores will be awarded on the basis of the faculty member’s contributions to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI).

In theory, the “guidance” issued by the dean’s office of the College of Arts & Sciences allow individual departments some latitude in how they conduct their peer reviews. But the language, though bland and formulaic, is clear: professors who fail to enlist in social-justice activism will have a less-than-promising future at UVa.

Evaluations of each faculty member’s “performance” will be shared with other faculty members. There is no uniform standard for weighting the scores, but if departmental reports don’t specify otherwise, the “default” mode is 40% teaching, 40% research, and 20% DEI. Continue reading

Emil Faber Weeps

by Walter Smith

The statue of Emil Faber, founder of Faber College (of Animal House fame), bears a quote, “Knowledge is good.” The reigning philosophy at the University of Virginia, by contrast, seems to be, “Only some knowledge is good.”

By way of introduction, let us note that the University of Virginia Alumni Association this fall conducted a survey that gauged the opinions of UVa alumni on a wide range of topics relating to the university. Of the approximately 25,000 alumni solicited, 1,319 responded. Among other highlights, the survey revealed that respect for university founder Thomas Jefferson and the Honor System has waned among younger alumni. The association published the findings in Virginia magazine.

Now consider a previous survey. In March 2018, in response to a request from a working group of UVa’s deans, the Board of Visitors approved the expenditure of $80,000 to conduct the 2017-18 University Climate Survey. “Climate Survey,” for your edification, has no connection to global warming. It is an academic term of art for measuring how schools are doing in their core missions. Many universities conduct similar surveys and publish them on their websites. Here is the University of Richmond’s. Here is Wake Forest’s. Here is UVa’s 2015 survey conducted shortly after the infamous Rolling Stone rape story.

You will not find a copy of the 2018 survey. The UVa administration has suppressed it. I tried to obtain the summary document through the Freedom of Information Act. UVa denied my request. I filed suit in Henrico County General District Court. I lost the initial round, but the fight is not over. Continue reading

The Memory (Hole) Project

by Walter Smith

“And when memory failed and written records were falsified—when that happened, the claim of the Party to have improved the conditions of human life had got to be accepted, because there did not exist, and never again could exist, any standard against which it could be tested.” — George Orwell, “1984”

Charlottesville City Council recently voted to give the city’s Robert E. Lee statue to The Jefferson School African American Heritage Center. The “Jefferson Center” (a deceptive name for a school that hates Jefferson) proposes to melt the statue and remold it into a new piece of public art that “expresses the city’s values of inclusivity and racial justice. … Our hope … is to create something that transforms what was once toxic in our public spaces into something beautiful and more reflective of our entire community’s social values.”

According to WINA News Radio, The Memory Project of the Democracy Initiative of the University of Virginia and other persons and entities, including the George Soros Open Society Foundations are listed as the first sponsor of this initiative. Continue reading

How to Live Free

Mia Love

by James A. Bacon

When Mia Love spoke at the University of Virginia last night, she could have told insider stories about her two terms as the only Black female Republican elected to Congress. She could have dished juicy details about what it was like as the sole GOP member of the Congressional Black Caucus, or the frustrating conversations with President Trump about recruiting Haitian immigrants into the Republican Party, or the $450,000 she had to raise and hand over to GOP party leaders to secure preferred committee assignments. She could have talked public policy about issues she cares about such as abortion or the nation’s profligate fiscal and monetary policies.

But she didn’t. Since losing a razor-thin re-election bid in 2018, she has been residing happily with her husband and three children in Salt Lake City. Although she appears as a talking head on CNN, she is writing a book and her thoughts have turned to a more inspirational direction.

Drawing heavily from personal experience, Love used the speech to explore how to live a life of freedom, integrity and purpose. Continue reading

In Defense of Thomas Jefferson — the Video!

Featuring University of Virginia alumni National Review Editor Rich Lowry and Texas Congressman Chip Roy.

UVa to Fund Woke Community Activism

It’s not enough for the University of Virginia to become an incubator of wokeness and let its ideas seep into the broader community. Now it is proactively exporting its leftist ideology. The latest initiative is the Equity Cohort, a shared project of the Virginia Institute of Government (VIG) and the School of Data Science.

“The core of local government is public service, of course, but there’s also the question of service for what?” said Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Siri Russell. “The fact of the matter is, I’ve never lived in an equitable community. I’ve never been able to see it. It’s almost like a thing that you’re aspiring to. This dream where your race, your ethnicity, your age, your gender, your income does not define your outcomes.”

And what does Russell propose? WVIR News says this: “She wants to see more governments creating and staffing equity offices, as well as implementing more equitable policies.” Continue reading

Lessons from the Virginia Governor’s Race

Editor’s note: The curators of the Jefferson Council blog have frequently observed how rarely UVA Today profiles faculty or students who profess conservative, or even moderate, political or philosophical views. We are pleased to note an exception to that rule, in which the University of Virginia’s house organ republished a piece by Mary Kate Cary, a lecturer in the University of Virginia’s department of politics and a self-described conservative, opining on Virginia’s 2021 gubernatorial election. Especially heartening is her observation that the young people she teaches are eager to hear a diversity of viewpoints. — JAB

by Mary Kate Cary

I teach political speech writing. My students know that earlier this year I served on a committee that wrote the University of Virginia’s statement on free speech and free inquiry, which stated that “All views, beliefs, and perspectives deserve to be articulated and heard free from interference.”

I’m also a conservative who recently co-taught a 2020 elections class with a liberal colleague – and we both managed to survive. In my class, the mainly liberal students know they can speak freely about what’s important to them. Being open about your political views is important – but so too is listening generously to those of others. Read more.

Does Jim Ryan Value Jefferson’s Legacy?

by Walter Smith

University of Virginia President Jim Ryan has stated that, as long as he holds office, the Thomas Jefferson statue in front of the Rotunda will remain in place. UVa’s founder, he says, will not be de-memorialized.

Talk is cheap. When given a golden opportunity to publicize Jefferson’s contribution to religious freedom — the 2019 publication of “Liberty in the Things of God: The Christian Origins of Religious Freedom” — Ryan took a pass. Neither he nor the administration’s propaganda organ, UVA Today (AKA UVA Pravda), have made mention of this important scholarship by Robert Louis Wilken, a UVa professor of the history of Christianity. Continue reading