Mr. Ryan Goes to Richmond

Tweet from Jim Ryan's Twitter account.On the heels of announcing the creation of a new biotech institute with the help of $150 million in state funding, University of Virginia President Jim Ryan traveled to the Virginia state capitol the other day to discuss how “UVA and the Commonwealth can continue to collaborate.”

Numerous bills affecting Virginia’s public universities, and by extension UVa, have been up for debate — bills calling for more transparency into university expenditures on lobbyists and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion administrators, for example, or mandating that universities with large endowments apply a minimum of 15% of market gains to making tuition more affordable.

The Jefferson Council wondered what else Ryan might have spoken to lawmakers about. Here is what university spokesman Brian Coy told us: Continue reading

Cavalier Daily Reveals Real Motive for Vilifying Bert Ellis

by James A. Bacon

As a critical vote approaches in the Virginia state senate, The Cavalier Daily has doubled down on its denunciation of Bert Ellis, and in so doing has revealed its real motive for campaigning to block his appointment to the University of Virginia Board of Visitors: Ellis represents a threat to Business As Usual at UVa.

In a Jan. 28 column, the Editorial Board rehashed its absurdly one-sided portrayal of Ellis’ actions as a member of the University Union 50 years ago and the two-and-a-half-year-old thought crime of intending, but never following through, to use a razor blade to cut down the infamous “F— UVA” sign on the door of a Lawn resident. The editors have persisted in their cherry-picking of facts despite the publication of multiple articles providing the full context of these incidents. (To refresh yourself on the details click here.) 

The Cavalier Daily is not engaging in journalism. The editorial, like its previous articles and editorials libeling Ellis as a racist and homophobe, is a partisan polemic. Sadly, as the student newspaper’s charges have been amplified by the UVa Student Council and Faculty Senate and propagated through social media and the rumor mill, they have inspired Democratic Party opposition in the General Assembly to the confirmation of Ellis, who was nominated by Governor Glenn Youngkin last June.

Normally, Virginia’ governors’ nominations for state boards and commissions are lumped together in a single bill and approved en masse. This year, two of Youngkin’s nominations have been stripped out for separate confirmation: State Health Commissioner Colin M. Greene, who has expressed skepticism of “systemic racism” as a cause of racial differences in racial health outcomes, and Ellis.

Why has Ellis been singled out? Why the grotesque misrepresentations? Why have the CD’s allegations transmogrified into claims so outrageous that even the CD would not recognize them — for instance, that Ellis used a razor blade to assault the young woman who penned the F— UVA sign?

Militant leftists perceive Ellis as a threat to their stranglehold on UVa’s culture and power structures. Continue reading

UVa Announces $300 Million Biotechnology Institute

From left, UVa President Jim Ryan, Governor Glenn Youngkin, Paul Manning, UVA Health CEO Dr. K. Craig Kent and University Rector Whitt Clement. Photo credit: UVA Today

by James A. Bacon

Entrepreneur-philanthropist Paul Manning and his wife Diane have donated $100 million to create a biotechnology institute that will focus on cellular therapy, gene therapy, nanotechnology and drug delivery to counter diseases that have so far eluded treatment. In making the announcement Friday, Virginia officials say the new institute could become an important economic driver for Virginia, attracting biotech and pharmaceutical companies to the state and potentially generating thousands of direct and indirect jobs.

The Mannings’ gift will be matched by a $50 million investment from the Commonwealth of Virginia and $150 million from the University of Virginia itself, according to UVA Today.

“We live in an incredibly exciting time of discovery in medicine – and the Manning Institute will ensure UVA remains at the forefront of research and patient care,” UVa President Jim Ryan said. “Paul and Diane Manning’s extraordinary gift will mean new treatments and therapies for the patients who need them most, and I’m immensely grateful for their generosity and vision.” Continue reading

UVa’s Killjoys at Work

Girls just want to have fun? Credit: UVa Club Gymnastics Instagram site

by James A. Bacon

Over on the Bacon’s Rebellion blog earlier this afternoon, I criticized Virginia’s colleges and universities for nurturing campus cultures that turn students into snowflakes unprepared for the adversity of the modern-day workplace and life as adults. A big contributor to the snowflake phenomenon is what psychologist Jonathan Haidt calls “safetyism” — essentially, protecting students from the risks of undergoing a bad experience.

Reporting on the Hazing Misconduct Report, today’s Cavalier Daily describes two cases of safetyism in which the university referred the Women’s Club Gymnastics and the University Guide Service student groups to the University Judiciary Committee for adjudication.

The kind of hazing that most people think of as requiring suppression usually results in wandering around stoned and naked, passing out blind drunk, or jumping out of windows. Everyone agrees that such outcomes are to be discouraged. But how bad is the following?

On Sept. 16, according to the bill of particulars, the Women’s Club Gymnastics instructed initiates to arrive at an event location precisely at 9:16 p.m…. “without information on the nature or purpose of the gathering.” (Gasp!) They were divided into groups divided by colors: blue, yellow, pink and orange. (Ew. Bad taste.) Then they were instructed to do “wall sits” until they succeeded in making a current club member laugh. The consequence of failure to induce laughter led to taking “a shot or alcohol or water.” Continue reading

Senate Subcommittee Nixes DEI Transparency

by James A. Bacon

A General Assembly senate subcommittee has voted down a bill that would require public Virginia colleges and universities to report the number and salaries of employees in the field of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. Sen. Bryce Reeves, R-Spotsylvania, had sponsored the bill, SB 1197, which also called for disclosure of sums spent on lobbying and for the recording and online posting of Board of Visitors board and committee meetings.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch coverage of the subcommittee meeting reported little discussion. The closest thing to an explanation for defeating the transparency measure came from Sen. Chap Petersen, D-Fairfax City. According to reporter Eric Kolenich:

Petersen questioned why colleges should be required to publish this information, which is already publicly available. Petersen called the bill “overly confrontational.”

That’s about as lame as it gets.

First point: No, actually, the information is not already publicly available — not readily. Continue reading

The Alumni Rebellion Spreads to JMU

A group of James Madison University alumni has organized a new group, the Madison Cabinet for Free Speech and Accountability, to promote “freedom of  expression, intellectual diversity, and academic freedom on campus.”

The JMU group marks the fourth university in Virginia to organize in protest of the takeover of an institution by woke administrations and campus cultures. The others include The Jefferson Council, The General’s Redoubt (at Washington & Lee), and The Spirit of VMI PAC (at the Virginia Military Institute). Virginia can claim more dissident alumni groups than any other state.

The Jefferson Council is pleased to have played an assisting role in getting the Madison Council organized. Tom Neale and Jim Bacon, both of whom serve as Jefferson Council representatives to the Alumni Free Speech Alliance (AFSA), participated in organizational Zoom calls, provided advice based on the Jefferson Council’s experience, and made introductions to AFSA.

“The Madison Cabinet represents a huge step forward for the alumni movement in Virginia,” said Bacon, executive director of the Jefferson Council. “Three alumni groups fighting for free expression and intellectual diversity will have far more clout in the halls of state government than one alone. The addition of the Madison Cabinet adds a new dimension to our efforts: the ability to influence state legislation.” Continue reading

UVa Student Council Peddles Its Character Assassination to the General Assembly

by James A. Bacon

The executive board of the University of Virginia student council has asked the Virginia General Assembly to reject Governor Glenn Youngkin’s appointment of Bert Ellis to the Board of Visitors.

The letter was addressed to Democratic Party leaders of the state senate. The Senate is comprised of 33Democrats and 18 Republicans, which gives Democrats the power to block the nomination if they follow a party-line vote. None have commented publicly yet on their intention.

The letter, which recycled charges made earlier this year by the UVa student council and faculty senate, described the Ellis appointment as “reckless, ill intentioned and threatening to the safety of the marginalized students at this University.” 

The Daily Progress repeated the allegations and linked to the letter without any offsetting comment from Ellis, the Youngkin administration, or the Jefferson Council, a UVa alumni organization of which Ellis is president. Ellis’ email is readily available: It is listed on the Jefferson Council website, as is that of the executive director (me).

The vendetta against Ellis amounts to character assassination. The portrayal of him is so one-sided as to make him unrecognizable. Ellis offered to give his side of the story to the Faculty Senate but the offer was declined. The Jefferson Council has published rebuttals, and letters have been written to the Cavalier Daily, but Ellis’ critics have acknowledged none of the exculpatory facts and testimony. They appear to be impervious to anything that might disturb their narrative. Continue reading

Douglas Murray Comes to UVa

It is no secret that free speech on college campuses is under attack. But is this new model for campus speech in line with University of Virginia’s founder, Thomas Jefferson? Students and professors alike experience pressure to either avoid or hyperfocus on controversial topics with limited room for honest and rigorous debate. If we can’t even discuss Jefferson’s own legacy with freedom of thought, what does this tell us about the future of Western civilization? Is Jefferson’s university no longer a marketplace of ideas, questions, argument, and discovery? If not, where are the alternative forums today? Where do we go from here?

Join bestselling author, “Uncanceled History” podcast host, and associate editor of The SpectatorDouglas Murray, to discuss this and more with UVA students on February 21, 2023, from 7:00 P.M. – 8:00 P.M.

Murray, the author of “The War on the West” and “The Madness of Crowds,” is one of the most incisive commentators today on the 21st-century culture wars. The Jefferson Council is pleased to partner with The Commonsense Society to bring him to the University of Virginia. Space is limited.

Click here to download a free ticket.

How DEI Is Supplanting Truth as the Mission of American Universities

Note: Our struggles at the University of Virginia mirror the culture wars raging across the country. From time to time The Jefferson Council will recommend articles we find to shed light on trends affecting Mr. Jefferson’s university. We are adding a button to our menu linking to an archive of these articles. Happy reading! — JAB

An obsession with Diversity, Equity and Inclusion threatens students, professors, and the very credibility of higher education in the U.S.
by John Sailer
The Free Press

In June 2020, Gordon Klein, a longtime accounting lecturer at UCLA, made the news after a student emailed him asking him to grade black students more leniently in the wake of the “unjust murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd.”

Klein’s response was blunt. It stated in part:

Thanks for your suggestion in your email below that I give black students special treatment, given the tragedy in Minnesota. Do you know the names of the classmates that are black? How can I identify them since we’ve been having online classes only? Are there any students that may be of mixed parentage, such as half black-half Asian? What do you suggest I do with respect to them? A full concession or just half? Read the whole article.

Freitas Introduces Higher-Ed Transparency Bill

Delegate Nick Freitas

by James A. Bacon

Delegate Nicholas J. Freitas, R-Culpeper, has introduced a bill, HB 1800, that would bring much needed transparency to the governance of Virginia’s public higher-ed institutions. The bill was cited in a list of priority legislation backed by Attorney General Jason Miyares.

The bill, which would affect the University of Virginia, contains several elements:

  • Governing boards of public colleges and universities must report the number and salaries of diversity officers and government-relations officers employed by their institutions.
  • Governing boards must report the total value of contracts with outside individuals engaged in lobbying on the institution’s behalf.
  • Boards must record videos of their meetings and post them prominently on their websites on a timely basis.
  • Boards must hold public meetings to solicit public input before approving the renewal of a university’s chief executive officer.
  • Boards must post an annual report on university-affiliated foundations that detail expenditures on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, lobbying, and CEO compensation.

One can only surmise what incidents gave rise to the Freitas bill. However, some informed speculation is in order. Continue reading