Category Archives: Intellectual diversity

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.

Jefferson Defended

by James A. Bacon

I was proud of the University of Virginia last night.

The Young Americans for Freedom organized an event, “Defending Thomas Jefferson,” featuring National Review editor Rich Lowry and Texas Congressman Chip Roy, both UVa alumni. Organizers believe it was the first time that conservative speakers from outside the university had been invited since former Senator Rick Santorum had appeared four or five years ago. (It’s been so long that memories were hazy about the details).

Many posts on social media had been critical, and there were rumblings that a protest might be organized. But university police posted outside the Newcomb Hall lecture room provided security, and nothing remotely unpleasant occurred.

More than 150 people attended the event, which easily met expectations. What I found most encouraging was the healthy contingent of Black students who came to hear what the defenders of the university’s founder might say. One could deduce that many were not sympathetic to the views of the speakers because they sat silently through the applause lines. But they listened respectfully and, when the time came for questions, a number asked questions that were pointed but polite. (I am pleased to note that one Black student, who spoke with an African accent, said that she found Jefferson inspiring.)

The event was exactly what a great university should be doing — exposing students to different perspectives and facilitating the civil exchange of views. I am delighted that the Jefferson Council played a role in helping make it happen. Continue reading

Larry Sabato Is Not the Problem at UVa

Larry Sabato

by James A. Bacon

Rich Anderson, Virginia GOP chairman, is unhappy with the partisan bias of University of Virginia political-science icon Larry Sabato, whose tweets have turned bitingly anti-Trump. Anderson contends that eight of Sabato’s tweets from the past year appear to violate the university’s mission statement and faculty code of ethics.

“A reasonable taxpaying citizen can readily conclude that Dr. Sabato is demonstrating the rankest form of bitter partisanship,” Anderson wrote in a letter to University of Virginia President Jim Ryan. “In order to have faith in our institutions, it is essential that Virginians hold accountable those public employees and officials who violate institutional values, codes of conduct, and other guidelines of professional behavior.”

Anderson is entitled to his opinions, of course, as is Sabato. The question is whether the answer to Sabato’s bias is suppression of his viewpoint. Continue reading

Challenging UVa.’s Culture of Left-Wing Intolerance

Note: This column is republished from The Washington Times.

by James A. Bacon

A committee appointed by University of Virginia President Jim Ryan issued a statement this May outlining the university‘s policy on free speech. As befitting the university founded by Thomas Jefferson, a champion of individual liberties, the committee stated its unequivocal “commitment to free expression and free inquiry.”

The statement of abstract ideals was reassuring. The trick, as Mr. Ryan himself acknowledged, will be applying those principles in real-world situations. And that likely will be easier said than done. Mr. Ryan will have to challenge the university‘s culture of left-wing intolerance and expand the range of permissible viewpoints on such ideologically charged issues relating to social justice.

Faculty members addressing the committee recounted undergoing mandatory “training” sessions in which they were pressured to regurgitate officially sanctioned platitudes. Others spoke of reining in words that might be construed as micro-aggressions. Kenneth Elzinga, a popular economics professor who has taught more students than any other in the history of UVa, described students “who tell us they are afraid to express their views in the classroom.” Continue reading

A Free Exchange of Left-Wing Ideas


by James A. Bacon

There was an old joke back during the Cold War. An American diplomat was talking to a Russian diplomat. The American diplomat praised the superiority of the American way of life: “In our country, we are free to criticize President Reagan.” To which the Russian diplomat replied, “In our country, we are also free to criticize President Reagan.”

That old saw came to mind when I read The College Fix‘s re-cap of a controversy over a University of Virginia webinar in which the panelists expressed boundless contempt for white evangelical Christians. Here’s what one panelist had to say: “Because they are being selfish and because they don’t care, their racism, their sexism, their homophobia, their lack of belief in science, lack of belief and common sense may end up killing us all.”

Jim Sherlock wrote about the panelists’ hate speech in Bacon’s Rebellion, and then posted UVa President Jim Ryan’s written response, in which he said, ““I assure you we’re taking this matter seriously and looking into it.” Continue reading

Packing the UVa Law School Faculty

Risa Goluboff, dean of the University of Virginia Law School

by Ann McLean

Earlier this week UVA Today touted the addition of 17 high-profile professors — packed with former U.S. Supreme Court clerks, Rhodes Scholars, and even a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship genius grant recipient — to the University of Virginia Law School.

“Our new and incoming faculty are either already academic superstars or superstars in the making,” said Dean Risa Goluboff. They are “highly influential voices in their fields whose scholarship will have an impact at UVA Law, both inside and outside of the classroom, and well beyond it.”

The law school’s run of prestigious hires, who include nine women and seven “people of color,” have sparked envious praise on Twitter, gushes the article, written by Eric Williamson, associate director of communications for the law school. “I feel like they must be amassing this incredibly all star faculty for a reason,” one woman is quoted as tweeting. “A new Marvel series? Avengers: Endgame 2?”

The article omitted one salient fact of interest to the broader UVa community — there is no intellectual diversity in the group. Every new hire tilts to the left ideologically. There’s not a conservative among them. Continue reading

We Are Losing the Soul of Our University

TO: All UVA Alumni and Friends Who Care About Our University

FROM: The Jefferson Council

RE: We Are Losing the Soul of Our University

DATE: May 20, 2021

On the eve of Final Exercises at our University, we, the founding members and Board of the Jefferson Council, feel the need to send out this letter regarding very troubling developments at our beloved University. Every aspect of the legacy of UVA is under threat from our President and his hand-picked administration. They have a social justice agenda that is in many cases contrary to the values at UVA that made our institution so unique and so beloved.

We cannot solve everything in one fell swoop. Like the adage about how to eat an elephant, the answer is one bite at a time. Therefore, we have narrowed our focus and set our goals to address four core issues at UVA that we know to have wide-spread alumni support. These four core issues of The Jefferson Council are as follows:

  1. Open Dialogue: We will fight for the University to adopt and enforce a set of principles providing for open dialogue from all parties within the University. No one should be vilified or physically abused or have their grades docked for expressing a contrary opinion on any issue, political or social.
  2. Mr. Jefferson: We will fight to protect the legacy of Mr. Jefferson as our Founder and as a Founding Father of America.
  3. The Lawn: We will fight to remove all signage from the Lawn doors and preserve the sanctity of the Academic Village.
  4. The Honor System: We will fight to resuscitate and preserve the Honor System at UVA. It has been severely weakened and will only survive with a concerted effort by the Board of Visitors, the Administration, the alumni, and the students.

Continue reading

UVa’s Latest Lurch Toward Leftist Uniformity

Malo Andre Hutson

by James A. Bacon

The University of Virginia has bolstered its reputation as a Leftist intellectual  monoculture with the announcement that Malo Andre Hutson, director of Columbia University’s Urban Community and Health Equity Lab, will become the new dean of the School of Architecture.

At Columbia, Hutson belongs to both the Earth Institute and the Columbia Population Research Center. He has written about gentrification, environmental justice, and urban health, a trifecta of trendy Leftist disciplines. His latest book is entitled, “The Urban Struggle for Economic, Environmental and Social Justice.” Continue reading

Religion Faculty Hate Speech against Evangelical Christians

UVa President James Ryan

by James C. Sherlock

Thirty percent of Virginians identify as evangelical Christians. So, one can never say that the University of Virginia, in targeting them with school-sponsored hate speech, doesn’t swing for the fences.

Members of UVa Department of Religious Studies faculty have unloaded on white evangelicals in as wide-ranging and comprehensive an example of collegial vitriol as you will ever watch or read.

The hatred spewed out is visceral and brooks no dissent. Continue reading

Intellectual Diversity Scorecard: Left-of-Center 7, Right-of-Center 0

Your periodic review of topics deemed worthy of coverage by the administration’s house organ, UVA Today, by Ann Mclean.

Class of 2021: With a Passion for Equity in Education, Graduate Makes Her Mark

African American education school graduate praised for her equity work with the Youth Action Lab and the UVA Equity Center

Casteen Awards Go to Engineering, Nursing, UVA-Wise Community Leaders

Touts award winners for promoting Diversity, Equity & Inclusion initiatives and social change on grounds. Continue reading