Author Archives: jimbacon1953

Canceling Edwin Alderman

John Reid interviews TJC Executive Director Jim Bacon about the movement at UVA to remove Edwin Anderson Alderman’s name from Alderman Library.

TJC’s 3rd Annual Meeting Will Explore UVA Governance

by James A. Bacon

The University of Virginia, like most public higher-ed institutions, is run by its president and senior executives. The Board of Visitors functions as a rubber stamp, approving whatever the administration puts before them. There is nothing unusual in the higher-ed world about the lopsided balance of power between UVA’s president and its board, but it is indisputably the case and must be recognized for what it is.

Where UVA differs from Ivy League universities and other elite private institutions is that its governing board is appointed by Virginia’s governor. That means UVA’s board is not a cozy, self-perpetuating clique. Governors can shake up the university power structure by appointing board members willing to challenge the status quo.

Virginia’s flagship university is nearing a pivot point. With the nomination of five new members (to be confirmed later by the General Assembly), Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s appointees, now a minority, will comprise a 13-to-4 majority of the Board effective July 1, 2014. The stakes couldn’t be higher. The impending new majority coincides with a dramatic shift in sentiment toward higher education. A U.S. Supreme Court ruling has restricted the use of race in admissions, and dissident alumni have ousted the presidents of Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania. UVA, too, is heading for a reckoning.

In a first-ever event of its kind, the Jefferson Council will devote its 3rd annual meeting April 9 to the theme of governance at UVA. An impressive line-up of speakers will examine the political and legal forces reshaping higher ed, explore how university governing boards can drive change, and critique the governance system at UVA.

Register here to attend this event. Continue reading

Morgan Bettinger Lawsuit Settled

Morgan Bettinger, the former University of Virginia student who claimed in a federal civil rights lawsuit that she was ostracized, bullied, and abused at UVA based on false charges and faulty legal grounds, has resolved her lawsuit with the university and its administrators.

Brown & Gavalier, the Charlottesville law firm that represented her, issued the following statement in response to our inquiry: “We are pleased to report that Morgan Bettinger’s lawsuit has been resolved. Neither she nor our law firm have any further comment at this time.” The firm declined to make Ms. Bettinger available for comment and declined to disclose the terms of the settlement.

University of Virginia spokesman Brian Coy said: “This case was resolved by a mutual and amicable agreement and dismissed following a joint motion by both parties.”

The Bettinger saga drew national attention as an extreme example of “cancel culture” on campus. To learn more about what was done to Bettinger, the extent and severity of the harm she claimed to have suffered as a result, and her allegations regarding the UVA Administration’s role in the events and responsibility for the alleged deprivations of her federally protected civil rights, read the lawsuit here.

— JAB

Great and Good in Action: Counseling for Racial Trauma

by James A. Bacon

President Jim Ryan has rebranded the University of Virginia as “Great and Good.” Great stands for academic excellence which, despite rampant grade inflation, UVA purportedly stands for. Good stands for social justice with a bit of environmental sustainability thrown in. Not only has UVA become a center for the formulation of ever more exotic forms of thinking about intersectional oppression, it is exporting its insights to the community at large.

As we come across examples of Great and Good in action, we will highlight the force that UVA exerts upon the community around it. The Facebook post shown above describes how the Counseling Alliance of Virginia (CAV) partners with UVA’s Federal and Employee Assistance Program (FEAP) to advance FEAP’s work to “enhance racial awareness and sensitivity.”

FEAP, we are told, has expanded its services to include not only UVA but 35 organizations in Charlottesville. Continue reading

The Purge Comes for Edwin Alderman

by James A. Bacon

As president of the University of Virginia between 1904 and 1931, Edwin Anderson Alderman led Thomas Jefferson’s university into the 21st century. A self-proclaimed “progressive” of the Woodrow Wilson stamp, he advocated higher taxes to support public education, admitted the first women into UVA graduate programs, boosted enrollment and faculty hiring, established the university’s endowment, reformed governance and gave UVA its modern organizational structure. Most memorably to Wahoos of the current era, he built a state-of-the-art facility, named Alderman Library in his honor, to further the pursuit of knowledge.

Like many other “progressives” of the era, Alderman also promoted the science (now known to be a pseudo-science) of eugenics, and he held racist views that today have been roundly rejected in the 21st century.

A movement has burgeoned at UVA to remove Alderman’s name from the library. The Ryan administration was poised in December to ask for Board of Visitors approval to take that step by renaming the newly renovated facility after former President Edgar Shannon. The administration withdrew the proposal after determining it did not have a majority vote. But Team Ryan could resurrect the name change at the February/March meeting of the Board, as suggested in the flier seen above. Continue reading

New From the Jefferson Independent…

Highlights from the latest edition of The Jefferson Independent

Middle Grounds: UVA’s Engagements Pathway
Pro and Con student commentaries about the Engagements Pathways curriculum designed to introduce first-year students to the arts and sciences.

Columns in Contention: Thomas Jefferson vs. Frank Lloyd Wright
Comparing and contrasting the architectural styles of Thomas Jefferson and Frank Lloyd Wright.

Ryan Appoints Board to Craft University-Neutrality Policy

After vetting the idea with the Board of Visitors in December, University of Virginia President Jim Ryan has announced the creation of the Committee on Institutional Statements to develop principles to guide official university statements on national and global events.

Twelve individuals — nine faculty members, one student, one alumnus and one member of the Board of Visitors — will serve on the Committee. John Owen, a political science professor, will chair the group.

“It seems like a simple question: When, if ever, should ‘the University’ comment on political and social events?” Ryan said, as quoted in UVA Today. “But answering that question is more complicated than it seems, and it brings up a range of additional questions and knotty issues.” Continue reading

In 2021 UVIMCO Embraced ESG Investing. How Has That Worked Out?

by James A. Bacon

A University of Virginia student group, UVA Apartheid Divest, is petitioning to hold a referendum demanding that the University of Virginia Investment Management Company (UVIMCO) divest itself of investments in corporations implicated by Israel’s “apartheid” regime.

The petition brings attention to the practice of socially responsible investing adopted by UVIMCO, which manages an endowment portfolio of roughly $14 billion for the university and affiliated organizations. States the website: “UVIMCO promotes ESG [environmental, social and governance] integration across its portfolio and with its investment managers.”

UVIMCO doesn’t invest in individual securities. It puts its money in the hands of money managers… who invest in individual securities. Rather than picking stocks, UVIMCO picks money managers. As part of that process, UVIMCO evaluates a prospective manager’s ability to incorporate ESG priorities into its investment practices. Continue reading

How Higher Ed Destroyed Its Brand

Jonathan Haidt, prolific author, social psychologist, and business school professor at New York University, gave a phenomenal speech at the University of Virginia last night, describing how higher-ed in the United States has destroyed its best-in-the-world global brand and what might be done to restore it.

The Jefferson Council was pleased to have hosted the event in partnership with UVA’s College Republicans, Center for Politics, and Heterodox Academy.

UVA Students Want Vote on Israel Divestment

by James A. Bacon

A student group at the University of Virginia is petitioning the student-run University Board of Elections at the University of Virginia to hold a referendum calling for an audit of UVA’s endowment funds to determine how much are invested in companies “engaging in or profiting from the State of Israel’s apartheid regime and acute violence against Palestinians and to immediately divest all funds so identified.”

The petition is backed by UVA Apartheid Divest (UVAAD), which seeks to unite UVA students in the struggle against “imperialism, colonialism, and militarism in pursuit of collective liberation.”

The organization’s vision states, “We envision a free Palestine, where everyone can live as free and equal citizens. We necessarily envision a world free from colonialism and imperialism, and from all the interrelated systems of oppression that hold them.” The initiative mirrors other BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) initiatives aimed at Israel taking place at other universities around the country.

Correction: An earlier version of this post stated that the referendum had been scheduled. Continue reading