Category Archives: Administration

Guest Column: Why Are You So Mad?

The Jefferson Council champions free speech and intellectual diversity at the University of Virginia. We welcome columns, op-eds, and letters addressing issues affecting the UVA community for publication on our guest forum, like the one submitted by Allan C. Stam, University Professor of Public Policy and Politics.


University presidents across the country face intense criticism from both the left and the right, caught in a vortex of political and ideological discontent. The right’s most recent grievances flow from blatant presidential hypocrisy. The roots of this can be traced to the proliferation of trigger warnings, safe spaces, bias response teams, admonitions against micro-aggressions, and the peculiar notion that words, along with silence, are violence. These illiberal restraints on speech exist ostensibly to protect students from harm.

Presidential concern for student emotional safety did not extend to Jews, however. Following the Hamas attacks of October 7, 2023, illiberal restrictions on speech were hypocritically abandoned when anti-Semitic speech spread across universities. Today, at the University of Virginia, the same left-leaning administrators who announced a $10,000 reward and an FBI investigation to find the perpetrator who hung a noose on Homer’s bronze likeness now excuse antisemitic speech and calls for the elimination of Israel as free expression. One effect of this blatant and widespread hypocrisy is that half of the Ivy League Universities are now looking for new presidents.

University leaders face a different but equally intense kind of ire from the left. Over the past decade, and particularly since the summer of 2020 following George Floyd’s death, many universities transformed themselves into bastions of social justice engagement. Institutions like Columbia University, the University of Michigan, UC Berkeley, and the University of Virginia now market themselves as training grounds for progressive activists.

The opportunity and desirability of “bending the arc of history” and being both “Great and Good” are spotlighted in admissions advertising, signaling the universities’ alignment with progressive causes. University presidents now routinely assert that the mission of their institutions extends beyond research and teaching to encompass a central focus on social justice. This has led universities to assume roles traditionally filled by local government, such as subsidizing public housing, transportation, and food for the indigent within their communities.

These days, humanities and social science professors routinely indoctrinate students with increasingly progressive values. Many of these faculty view their role more as activism trainers rather than teacher-scholars. Progressive community engagement is praised by university leaders. University glossy publications valorize activism over bias-free teaching and research. But why is the illiberal left now turning against university presidents?

In the spring of 2024, these same presidents who have been advocates and salesmen for social justice called on the police to break up campus protests. Ironically, in some cases, the demonstrations took place within a stone’s throw of monuments highlighting previous students’ protests and successful activism. The blatant hypocrisy of a university president in one breath praising the student activists of 1968 and in the next breath calling on city and state police to crack down on the current generation of students has proven too much for the leftist faculty. The same university presidents who championed progressive causes are now cracking down on the very activists they previously recruited and praised. The widespread arrests and disciplinary actions, an apparent betrayal of the progressive cause, have ignited fury among universities’ liberal base.

University leaders have historically tried to appease the liberal left, first with affirmative action in the late 1970s, which courts and state referenda eventually curtailed, and later with speech codes in the 1980s and 1990s, which were similarly struck down. Today, the tools of choice for the left are ubiquitous and costly Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives. These programs encompass, among other things, identity-based discrimination, workshops on acceptable behavior, and compulsory training for students, administrators, and faculty.

Just as previous attempts at regulating speech and behavior have been legally challenged and often overturned, DEI policies are beginning to face significant judicial scrutiny. Diversity statements, commonly required in academic hiring and promotion processes, are a prime example of compelled speech, forcing individuals to adhere to a particular ideological stance. This form of ideological coercion is antithetical to academic freedom and free expression principles. As currently practiced, inclusion often equates to a new form of discrimination, excluding those who do not conform to the prevailing ideological orthodoxy. It is only a matter of time before these practices are legally challenged and dismantled.

The backlash against university presidents from both ends of the political spectrum underscores a fundamental crisis in higher education leadership. These leaders are struggling to balance competing demands: from the right, a call for the restoration of free speech and academic rigor, and from the left, an insistence on comprehensive local and national progressive social justice reform. The solution to this impasse is not to capitulate to either extreme but to restore a sense of balance and reason to university governance.

University presidents must reclaim their roles as impartial administrators rather than advocates of progressive causes, ensuring that institutions of higher learning return to their core teaching and research missions. This requires a commitment to upholding academic freedom, fostering diverse viewpoints, and resisting the imposition of ideological conformity. It is time to return the adults to the room and retake the center, steering universities back to a path that respects free expression and the pursuit of knowledge without succumbing to the pressures of ideological extremism.

Allan C. Stam is University Professor of Public Policy and Politics at the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy at the University of Virginia.

UVA Grad Students Urge Withholding of Year-End Grades

From UCWVA Instagram post

From UCWVA Instagram post

by James A. Bacon

The United Campus Workers of Virginia (UCWVA) at the University of Virginia has launched a campaign urging faculty and graduate students to withhold grades until the Ryan administration capitulates to its demands of amnesty for people arrested during the May 4 crackdown on the pro-Palestinian “liberation zone.”

“UVA exec admin stood by while state police cracked down on a peaceful gathering,” says the UVA chapter. “If you disagree with the repression of campus protest, join your colleagues in this immediate action to demand amnesty!”

The Jefferson Council has not yet been able to determine to degree to which the grade-repression movement has gained traction. However, UCWVA claims on Instagram that Provost Ian Baucom “is sending scared emails.”

“Punishing students by withholding their grades to pressure the Ryan administration is reckless, irresponsible, and grounds for immediate dismissal,” said Tom Neale, president of the Jefferson Council.

Neale urged students, faculty, and parents to notify him at [email protected] if they know of any classes where semester grades are being withheld. Send him the names of professors and graduate students and the classes they teach. He will make sure the Administration and the Board of Visitors are made aware. Continue reading

Critics Don’t Buy Ryan’s Tent-Takedown Rationale

by James A. Bacon

From professors to Lawn residents, members of the University of Virginia community continue to criticize President Jim Ryan and senior UVA leadership for their decision Saturday to shut down the UVA Encampment for Gaza “liberated zone.” While Ryan’s defense of his decision during a virtual “town hall” meeting Tuesday won praise in some quarters, such as online UVA-parent fora, many students and faculty members continued to condemn the action.

“We have nothing but contempt for the state, city and county police…” stated a poster on the door of a Lawn resident. “To call these officers of the law pigs is perhaps too mild.” Another sign captured in photos published on blog of the local talk-radio Schilling Show expressed “bitter opposition” to “the war and totalitarianism in the nation.”

In its coverage of the town hall, The Daily Progress called into question details in the narrative of events detailed by Ryan and University Police Department Chief Tim Longo and described the “town hall” as more akin to a press conference than a genuine give-and-take. Continue reading

Blockbuster: Ryan Solicited Urgent Meeting with Jones Prosecutor

by James A. Bacon

Three days before withholding a state-ordered report looking into a 2022 mass shooting at the University of Virginia that killed three students and wounded two, UVA officials set up a meeting with the prosecutor of the alleged killer, The Daily Progress reports.

In a statement issued November 17, 2023, President Jim Ryan and Rector Robert Hardie justified keeping the report’s findings secret by quoting the prosecutor, Albemarle County Commonwealth Attorney Jim Hingeley, as thanking the University for not complicating the prosecution of the accused.

“After conferring with counselors and Albemarle County Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Hingeley, we have decided that we need to wait until after the criminal proceedings to release further information,” said Ryan and Hardie.

Left unsaid in the statement is the fact that Ryan initiated the meeting with Hingeley, using University Police Chief Tim Longo as an intermediary. Longo, who worked closely with Charlottesville and Albemarle County law enforcement authorities on safety issues affecting the university, made a logical go-between. Continue reading

UVA Report Finds No Pay Inequity for Black, Hispanic Profs

Adjusted salary differentials for tenure/tenure track faculty.

by James A. Bacon

The Racial Equity Task Force, a 2020 document that transformed governance at the University of Virginia, listed 12 top priorities for addressing the legacy of historical racism. One was to address “serious challenges to racial equity in staff hiring, wages, retention, promotion, and procurement” by auditing where policies and procedures might be “reinforcing entrenched inequities.”

The report cited no actual evidence of disparities in pay, and the authors did not assert that they existed. In a report that lambasted UVA as “an inaccessible, rich, ‘white’ institution,” pay inequities were just assumed to occur and needed to be documented.

Well, last year the Ryan administration hired the DCI Consulting Group to evaluate “pay equity” for UVA faculty based on gender and race. The results, based on 2022 compensation, were made available to UVA January 5 and, sure enough, pay inequities were found…. for non-tenured Asian-American faculty.

Remarkably, adjusted for their level in the academic hierarchy, seniority and other variables affecting compensation, Black professors who are tenured or on the tenure track were f0und to earn 3% more than their peers, Hispanic professors 3.4% more, and Whites 1.6% less — although DCI did not deem the differences to be “statistically significant.” Continue reading

What Do All Those DEI Employees Do?

A reader wrote this letter in response to our article highlighting Open the Books’ finding of 235 employees and interns in UVA’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion bureaucracy. The author asked to remain anonymous. — JAB 

Thanks for sharing this article. I am not surprised at the number of DEI positions at UVA. We have long known that there are more and more people employed at UVA or any university who do not teach, conduct research, garden, cook food, or attend to maintenance. A good chunk of the rise in college costs goes to the increase in the position that are loosely administrative. When I got to UVA in 1995 we had a dean, three or four associate deans and a few counselors in the School of Education. Today we still have a dean, 5 associate deans and at least 15 directors, some of whom do not hold faculty positions. Some of these new positions are related to fund raising development, grant administration and other outreach functions. In 1995 we had 75 to 100 full-time faculty and about 2,000 students. We still have the same number of faculty and students, but we built a new building to hold the administrators.

As I was reading the article and clicking on the links I kept wondering just what do these people do. I suspect they attend a lot of meetings and write a lot of reports, but do any of the students benefit? I did a quick check in 2009 about 8% of the student body was African American, in 2021 about 6%. Clearly these folks are not succeeding at making the place more diverse. The percentage of Hispanic students has ticked up by 2% and Asians by 7%. Continue reading

Why Can’t The University of Virginia Tell The Truth About Its $1 Billion DEI Plan?

University spokesperson Brian Coy misled national media about how much DEI was costing students and taxpayers. Why won’t UVA own its $1 billion plan?

by Adam Andrzejewski

“…a call for us to be the very best version of ourselves and to live our stated commitments to diversity, equity and inclusion to become a better university.”
Dr. James Ryan, President, University of Virginia, September 11, 2020

Recently, our auditors at found that the University of Virginia (UVA) employed 235 people in roles related to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) costing taxpayers some $20 million for salaries and benefits last year.

Our report broke in the Washington Examiner and made national news. It hit multiple primetime shows on Fox News, the nightly news on the nearly 200 ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox affiliates of Sinclair Broadcast Group, a retweet by Elon Musk, and a hearing by the U.S. House subcommittee on Education and the Workforce. Continue reading

Who Counts As a DEI Employee?

by James A. Bacon

Earlier this month Open the Books, an organization dedicated to government spending transparency, released a study concluding that the University of Virginia employs 235 people, including interns, in roles relating to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at a payroll cost of roughly $20 million a year. Characterizing Open the Books’ numbers as “wildly inflated,” UVA officials disputed how the group counted someone as a DEI employee. Open the Books fired back yesterday with another broadside, defending its numbers and faulting UVA’s own claim that the University has only 55 DEI employees costing $5.8 million.

In June 2023, the Ryan administration presented numbers to the Board of Visitors that provided the following breakdown:

While Open the Books has been fully transparent, going so far as to publish a list of the employees, titles and salaries it is counting, UVA has not reciprocated with a list of its own. Continue reading

Assigning Extra Credit for Attending Pro-Hamas Event

Tessa Farmer

by James A. Bacon

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion staff at the University of Virginia downplayed concerns about Tessa Farmer, an anthropology professor who last fall offered extra credit to students to attend a Students for Justice in Palestine-organized teach-in, reports The Washington Examiner this morning.

The purpose of the event was to show solidarity with Palestinians resisting Israeli “occupation” and demand that the United States withdraw its support for Israel. 

“Internal emails show DEI staffers were apparently unperturbed by this professor’s promotion of a Students for Justice in Palestine event despite the group’s radical rhetoric,” the newspaper quoted Adam Andrzejewski, CEO of federal-spending watchdog OpenTheBooks, as saying. OpenTheBooks worked with the Examiner on the Freedom of Information Act requests that recovered the emails. The group also collaborated with the Jefferson Council to publish recent findings that UVA spends $20 million on salary and benefits for DEI staff at UVA. Continue reading

University of Virginia Spends $20 Million On 235 DEI Employees, With Some Making $587,340 Per Year

It takes tuition payments from nearly 1,000 undergraduates just to pay their base salaries!

The Jefferson Council is reposting this article published by Open the Books, a nonprofit group dedicated to transparency in government spending. We are pleased to say that we provided assistance in the research and fact-checking.  Open the Books CEO Adam Andrzejewski will speak at the Jefferson Council 3rd annual meeting April 9. Register now to attend. — JAB

The University of Virginia (UVA) has at least 235 employees under its “diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI)” banner — including 82 students — whose total cost of employment is estimated at $20 million. That’s $15 million in cash compensation plus an additional 30 percent for the annual cost of their benefits.

In contrast, last Friday, the University of Florida dismissed its DEI bureaucracy, saving students and taxpayers $5 million per year. The university terminated 13 full-time DEI positions and 15 administrative faculty appointments. Those funds have been re-programmed into a “faculty recruitment fund” to attract better people who actually teach students.

No such luck for learning at Virginia’s flagship university – founded by Thomas Jefferson no less. UVA has a much deeper DEI infrastructure. Continue reading