Category Archives: Board of Visitors

The Jefferson Council President: Massive Expense Reductions Must Be Priority For New BOV

Since our inception four years ago, The Jefferson Council has relentlessly fought to implement our four founding pillars:

  1. Promote a culture of civil dialogue, the free exchange of competing ideas and intellectual diversity throughout the University
  2. Preserve the Jefferson Legacy
  3. Preserve the appearance of the Lawn as a UNESCO World Heritage site
  4. Support and reinvigorate the Honor System

Mr. Jefferson’s legacy cannot be preserved unless we ensure that the cost of a University of Virginia (UVA) education remains competitive with our peer universities. One of the many historical competitive advantages of UVA has been its 33% out-of-state undergraduate student body representation. This is a much higher percentage than our public university top-ranked competitors. The UVA undergraduate student body bears a close resemblance to quality private universities whose students come from states across America. As a result, we must be aware we are competing for middle class parents who desire a stellar education for their children but cannot afford comparable private college tuition.

You will see from the chart below that UVA is the most expensive top 50 public university in America. Perhaps more amazingly, a third and fourth year out-of-state undergraduate at UVA is charged more than his or her counterparts at Harvard.







Click for Princeton Costs





Click for Harvard Costs.





Click for Duke Costs




#15 (tie)

Click for Cal Berkeley Costs




#15 (tie)

Click for UCLA Costs





Click for Vanderbilt Costs


1st and 2nd year: $33,214

3rd and 4th year: $35,376

1st and 2nd year: $74,058

3rd and 4th year: $78,128


Click for Michigan Costs1





Click for UNC Costs





Click for Florida Costs





Click for Wisconsin Costs





Click for Georgia Costs


1st year: $39,494

2nd year:

3rd and 4th year: $43,558

McIntire: $52,420

1st year:

2nd year:

3rd and 4th year: $83,658



Click for UVA Costs

1 Michigan’s 2024-2025 costs not yet published; numbers are for 2023-2024


Quite simply, UVA is not competitive. I have no doubt we are losing well-qualified out-of-state students whose middle-class parents need to save money and are thus sending their children to less expensive quality state universities versus the private options. Of note is the University of North Carolina (UNC) which has been ranked higher than UVA for the past several years and is over $20,000 less expensive.

As of July 1, Governor Youngkin’s appointees now comprise the voting majority on the Board of Visitors (BOV). They must aggressively address the bloated administrative costs at UVA and slash expenses with a vengeance. The broadly defined middle class is being shut out since Access UVA scholarship aid stops at $125,000 in family income — excluding at least 40% of all families classified as “middle class” according to the Pew Research Center. The financial reality of our high tuition charges is that they prohibit deserving middle-class students from attending. The out-of-state student body is now comprised of the upper 5% family income portion of America or the poor/lower middle class. Where is the economic diversity in our student body?

Given the abysmal publicity the Ivies have received over their post-October 7 campus riots, Forbes and other media outlets are mentioning UVA as a “public Ivy” alternative. If we slash expenses and become truly competitive, we will benefit from this decision. If we don’t, UNC and the other “public Ivies” shown above will get top-drawer students who might otherwise attend UVA given the large cost differential. I spent four decades in corporate finance and would argue that the BOV needs to start forcing pragmatic business modeling philosophies on the very out-of-touch administrators who run UVA. You don’t beat the competition by pricing your product out of the market.

If expenses were slashed and savings applied to tuition reduction, we would see a huge increase in highly qualified out-of-state applicants. That’s just common sense, and frankly, the right thing to do. Massive expense reductions must be a high priority for the new BOV in the September Board meeting.

Rest assured that The Jefferson Council will continue to highlight these expense realities to the Board. We will not relent until hundreds of millions of dollars are slashed from the University’s bloated overhead expenses and applied directly to tuition reductions, making UVA the most competitive elite state university in America.

If you share our values and concerns, please join us in this battle with your financial support — we are stronger together.



The Jefferson Council Hails New Board Appointments at the University of Virginia

CHARLOTTESVILLEThe Jefferson Council (TJC), a nonprofit alumni association formed to preserve the legacy of Thomas Jefferson and the free exchange of competing ideas at the University of Virginia, welcomes the five new members appointed by Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin to the University of Virginia Board of Visitors. We look forward to working with them to make UVA the premier public university in the country.

“We share Governor Youngkin’s goals of promoting free speech, intellectual diversity, and affordability at Virginia’s flagship university,” said TJC president Tom Neale. “Now that they occupy thirteen-of-seventeen Board seats, his appointees are finally in a position to advance his agenda.”

The new appointees — Daniel M. Brody, Marvin W. Gilliam Jr., David Okonkwo, David F. Webb, and Porter Wilkinson — bring great strengths to the board.

“These men and women are accomplished individuals in their business and professional fields, and we are confident they will make valuable additions to the UVA Board,” said TJC executive director Sam Richardson.

Notably, Marvin Gilliam has served previously on the Board of Visitors and currently serves on the College Board at UVA Wise. “University governance is very different from that of corporations and government. There is a steep learning curve for new board members,” Richardson said. “Gilliam will be able to contribute immediately.”

As an organization committed to those Jeffersonian principles which formed UVA 205 years ago, The Jefferson Council is prepared to serve as an independent source of information and analysis. We will soon be reaching out to all seventeen Board members with a packet of information on spending, tuition, free speech, and intellectual diversity issues that are important to Governor Youngkin.

The Jefferson Council is a nonprofit organization comprised of alumni and other UVA stakeholders committed to promoting a culture of civil dialogue, the free exchange of competing ideas, and intellectual diversity throughout the University; preserving the Jefferson Legacy; preserving the appearance of the Lawn as a UNESCO World Heritage site; and supporting and reinvigorating the Honor System.

An Open Letter to Governor Youngkin: Pick Fighters for the UVA Board

28 June 2024
Glenn Youngkin
Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia

Dear Governor Youngkin,

You are getting close to the June 30 deadline for announcing five new nominees to the University of Virginia Board of Visitors. As of July 1, your appointees will comprise a Board majority for the first time in your two-and-a-half years in office. To leave a lasting legacy, however, you cannot nominate business-as-usual candidates.

UVA’s rector, Robert Hardie, is a Northam-era holdover, and he works with President Ryan to set the agenda, frame the discussion, and control the flow of information of the Board. Both men support the status quo, and both will have the backing of administrators, faculty, and student leadership who are hostile to your vision for the University.

You need to nominate fighters willing to ask hard questions and shrug when their names are dragged through the mud. Don’t appoint passive candidates to avoid stirring up controversy. They will accomplish nothing.

You also need to set clear priorities. 

The Jefferson Council offers the following:

Address astronomical tuition cost and administrative bloat. The cost of attending UVA is pricing out the middle class, especially for out-of-state students. You have called upon all Virginia universities to cut costs and tame tuition. Cosmetic, one-time cuts won’t accomplish your goal. The Board members you appoint must do the hard work of digging deep into UVA’s cost structure. Step one: dismantle the vast administrative apparatus erected to pursue “social justice” and “racial equity,” loosely referred to as Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). The Board of Visitors committed in 2020 to carrying out the recommendations of the Racial Equity Task Force, which called for spending between $700 million and $950 million to rectify historical wrongs. The Board must scrutinize that spending. 

But that’s just a start.

Reduce spending on feel-good initiatives. Does UVA really need more guidance and emotional-wellness counselors? Does being “Great and Good” necessitate building social-justice partnerships with the community? Why do the highest-paid professors teach the fewest courses? How aggressively does UVA reallocate resources from low-enrollment departments to high-enrollment departments? There are many areas to consider cutting costs, and The Jefferson Council is prepared to sit down with you and the Board of Visitors to identify the low-hanging fruit as well as long-term solutions.

Advance free speech and intellectual diversity. You have asked every Virginia university to devise a plan for advancing free speech and intellectual diversity. UVA’s website may boast a high free speech rating, but actions from administrators and faculty alike increasingly contradict that label and demand your attention. Faculty and staff are marching relentlessly to an ideological extreme, utilizing “DEI statements” to filter out candidates with different views. Departments have become self-perpetuating cliques of the like-minded. The Board needs to lay bare the intellectual monoculture that prevails at UVA and devise strategies to change it. The Jefferson Council would like to partner with you in this effort in various ways, including by providing diverse perspectives from among our membership and network of UVA alumni and donors.

Preserve Jefferson’s legacy. Thomas Jefferson was a man like few others produced by history. He was not a saint, but today at UVA, he is often portrayed as a slave-holding rapist. A Youngkin-appointed Board needs to preserve his legacy. There are many ways we are ready to work with you on this, but here are two quick and easy wins that can signal the new priorities: 

First, protect the dignity of the Lawn, part of a UNESCO world heritage site visited by tourists around the world, by forbidding student residents, in their terms of lease, from placing posters and flyers on their doors. No one’s free speech rights will be violated. Lawn residents have numerous other options to express their views.

Second, sever relations with the Student Guides club that provides student and historical tours. Student administrative-sanctioned events must have a welcoming script and guides willing to deliver it. However, these tours have degenerated into discourses on slavery, segregation, racism, and the persecution of indigenous peoples. Many students and parents have been turned off and never return. 

Your next Board of Visitors appointments assume their seats at a critical time for Mr. Jefferson’s university, and for your legacy. Nominate individuals who will have the grit to fight for the university, its history, its legacy, and its students. Nominate men and women who are capable of making the hard decisions to lead UVA back to a position of great character and excellence.


The Jefferson Council
Executive Committee

Thomas Neale, President
Sam Richardson, Executive Director
Peter Bryan, Treasurer
Chip Vaughan, Secretary

BoV Meets in Special Closed Session, Takes No Action

The University of Virginia Board of Visitors met in a special closed session today for a briefing by law enforcement, administration and legal counsel on security-related issues relating to the UVA Encampment for Palestine and final exercises. Upon coming out of closed session, the Board held no discussion or took any action except to confirm by unanimous vote that no other topic was addressed. — JAB

Team Ryan Defends Closed Board Session

by James A. Bacon

University of Virginia officials have responded, albeit obliquely, to questions raised by the Jefferson Council about the legality of a closed session called during a Board of Visitors meeting March 1.

In a column posted in the “So Hoos Asking” feature of UVA Today, University spokesman Brian Coy walked readers through the basics of closed sessions under Virginia state law. In that piece, he cited the real-world example of the Board’s vote last month to go into closed session to discuss the safety of Jewish students on Grounds in the wake of allegations of antisemitism.

Coy’s description of the session reveals details not previously available to the public. I’m not entirely satisfied with his explanation, as I shall explain in due course, but even if I were, another issue arises: If the topic of the closed-session discussion was as narrowly focused as Coy says it was, it drives home the fact that Rector Robert Hardie and President Jim Ryan have shut down any discussion in open session of the larger questions of UVA’s hostile climate to Jews.

In the cause of promoting open and reasoned dialogue, we are duty-bound to inform our readers fully and fairly of the views of the Ryan administration. Here follows the full passage from Coy’s column. Continue reading

Ellis Honored by White Rose Society

Bert Ellis, co-founder of the Jefferson Council and a University of Virginia board member since 2022, has been awarded the White Rose by the White Rose Society, for his stand in defense of Jewish students at UVA.

The White Rose Society honors and thanks “individuals who have become beacons of hope for the Jewish people by recognizing those who make a difference through their actions.” The organization’s name pays homage to the Weiße Rose (White Rose), a resistance group founded by non-Jewish students at the University of Munich in 1942.

“The BOV is now well aware of the antisemitic activities that have happened/are happening at UVA,” Ellis said. “I intend to keep antisemitism front and center until we can bring this issue under control. There is no reason why students and faculty at UVA cannot debate the issues of Israel and Palestine and the Middle East in an open and civil manner without the need to vilify or verbally abuse or threaten one side or the other.” Continue reading

Did the Board of Visitors Illegally Meet in Closed Session?

by James A. Bacon

Last week the University of Virginia leadership dodged and weaved and did everything it could to suppress an open, wide-ranging discussion at the Board of Visitors meeting of how Jewish students are treated at UVA.

Most pointedly, Rector Robert Hardie called a “hard stop” on board member Bert Ellis’ bid to focus on how the administration was allowing Jewish students to be subjected to hostile and discriminatory treatment. Hardie declared that the points raised by Ellis fell under the rubric of “student safety issues,” which the Board would discuss in closed session.

Was “student safety” a legitimate reason to reject Ellis’ call for open debate about one of the most contentious set of issues to afflict UVA in years?

I’m not a legal expert in government transparency, but it looks to me like UVA violated state open-government law in calling the closed session. I’ll make that case below. But I would welcome feedback from anyone with an expertise in this area to guide the Jefferson Council as we ponder whether to escalate our criticism of what was — whether legal or illegal — a grotesque lack of transparency at an institution supposedly committed to open inquiry. Continue reading

UVA Leadership Squelches Debate About University’s Antisemitism Problem

Provost Ian Baucom and Academic & Student Affairs Chair Elizabeth Cranwell: Antisemitism issues best addressed “in another setting.”

by James A. Bacon

During the University of Virginia Board of Visitors meeting Thursday, Provost Ian Baucom briefed board members on what the administration was doing to defuse tensions in the UVA community between Jews and the vocal pro-Palestinian faction over the Israel-Gaza war.

He mentioned “sustained academic programming” to illuminate sources of the decades-long conflict. He took note of the mental health services provided those experiencing mental anguish. He assured the Board that the University was working to bring opposing parties together in dialogue and to understand “the reality of Jewish, Muslim and other religious minorities.” UVA, he said, was committed to “deep engagement” and “freedom of expression.”

The Provost reiterated the administration’s support for free speech. UVA, he said, was a place where “people are free to disagree” but where “everyone belongs.” “We need to listen to people we disagree with,” he added, and concluded by thanking the Board for its “help and wisdom.”

But when board members began addressing the hostile environment for Jewish students at UVA, there was no sign that the Provost, President Jim Ryan, or Rector Robert Hardie were interested in “listening” to anyone who disagreed with them, much less in “engaging” with them on the most contentious issue to afflict the University in recent years. Continue reading

Alderman Cancelled

The University of Virginia Board of Visitors voted Friday afternoon to rename Alderman Library to Edgar Shannon Library. Other than an abstention by Paul Harris, the tally was unanimous. Stephen Long cast his vote “with reservations” but it counted as a “yes.”

The vote followed an extended closed session, which ran significantly over the scheduled time limit. The session had been preceded by a testy exchange between Hardie and Bert Ellis, who wanted to talk about the treatment of Jewish students at UVA, Hardie cut him off, saying, “We will discuss this in closed session.”

There is much more to be said about the Board’s discussion — or the stifling of discussion — about the treatment of Jews at UVA, and your humble correspondent will tell that story in the near future. For now, he will order a daquiri, retire to his hammock, and enjoy the fading moments of his Costa Rica vacation.


Board Shows No Interest in Israel Divestment (Updated)

by James A. Bacon

University of Virginia students this week voted two-to-one in favor of a referendum asking the University to “divest its stocks, funds, and endowment from companies that profit from any and all acts of human rights violations across the world.” The referendum specifically asked for UVIMCO, which manages the university’s $14 billion endowment, to audit its holdings and identify corporations financially “implicated” with Israel’s “apartheid regime.”

Thirty percent of the student body participated in the referendum in a process starting Monday and concluding Wednesday. The referendum generated significant publicity on Grounds.

The Board of Visitors had the perfect opportunity this morning to address the divestment issue when it met with UVIMCO’s Chief Executive Officer and Chief Operating Officer. But the topic never came up.

UVIMCO officials reported on their 2023 investment results, and board members did inquire about the investment group’s relationship with the university, its philosophy toward ESG (environmental, social and governance), and its ability to pick specific stocks, bonds and securities. The subject of Israeli divestment was never broached but the dialogue made it clear that purging individual investments would be exceedingly different under UVIMCO’s business model. Continue reading