Letter from Bert Ellis, president of The Jefferson Council to All Friends of the University of Virginia.
I am writing this letter as Bert Ellis, a passionate Double Hoo (College ‘75, Darden ‘79) and as a Founder and President of The Jefferson Council. Our University is under attack from multiple sources and at multiple levels. The entire academic and community experience that so many of us shared at UVA is
totally at risk. Our Administration has totally politicized the entire university to the detriment of all that we hold dear.
We at the Jefferson Council have been fighting on behalf of all of us to preserve/promote four major tenets:
1) Open Dialogue throughout the University.
2) Preservation of the Jefferson legacy.
3) Preservation of the architectural sanctity of the Lawn.
4) Preservation and rejuvenation of the Honor System.
We have indeed made some progress on points 1 and 3: The University adopted a set of principles of open dialogue which we think are quite reasonable and the Ryan administration adopted a set of rules limiting signage on the Lawn doors. Mr. Jefferson’s statue – which was in jeopardy — remains in front of the Rotunda, yet to be contextualized. The Honor System still exists but is now under very serious attack such that this could be its very final year at UVA. Continue reading
Attendees of the 9/11: Never Forget Project included Ian Solomon, dean of the Frank Barren School of Leadership and Public Policy (third from left), President Jim Ryan (third from right), YAF chapter Chairman Nickolaus Cabrera (far right) and other YAF chapter officers.
On the morning of Sept. 11, the Young America’s Foundation at the University of Virginia held a service to remember the 2,977 Americans who died in the wave of terrorist attacks 20 years previously. The conservative group planted 2,977 tiny flags in rows in the university Amphitheater. Dan Moy, a retired Air Force colonel, gave the address.
The event was supported informally by the UVa administration. President Jim Ryan was among those in attendance.
The event went as planned, but that evening, someone discovered that the flags were in disarray. Intruders had knocked over many of the colors, strewing them about, and had flipped over a table with a banner. Continue reading
by James A. Bacon
The University of Virginia has taken down the statue of Indian fighter George Rogers Clark and is expunging other monuments and tributes to individuals who fall short of lofty, progressive 21st-century ideals. President Jim Ryan has promised that the statue to Thomas Jefferson, the university’s founder, will stay. But it will be “contextualized.”
What that contextualization will look like is anybody’s guess. The project has been handed to the “Naming and Memorials Committee” for elaboration. Will Jefferson be portrayed as a founding father and progenitor of principles that guide the United States today… or a slave-holding rapist? It is too early to say.
What we do know is that considerable thought has been given to the machinery of contextualization. Whatever the message may be, it will be delivered digitally. Envision standing near the Jefferson statue, or the Rotunda, or the Lawn, or other spots deemed worth of recognition, such as the Black Bus Stop, the Ginger Scott Case, or the Coat and Tie Rebellion. You can take out your smart phone, scan a QR code, and access text and audio descriptions.
But there are warning flags galore as to where this initiative is heading. Continue reading
by James A. Bacon
The University of Virginia Board of Visitors took another big step in purging its “white supremacist” past by voting Friday to take down the statue to George Rogers Clark. The Clark statue, critics say, perpetuates “the myth of brave white men conquering a supposedly unknown and unclaimed land.”
The cost of removing, relocating and storing the statue is estimated to cost $400,000. University officials expect the statue to be removed by the end of the summer. Then the university will start talking to students and the Indigenous community about what should replace it, reports The Daily Progress.
The removal, initially recommended by the UVa’s Racial Equity Task Force, advances the systematic extirpation of any names, memorials or statues that can be tangentially connected to “white supremacy.” The dismantling of the Clark statue is part of a larger set of recommendations to “repair relationships with Indigenous communities” by establishing a “tribal liaison position,” found a Center for Native American and Indigenous Studies, recruit Native and Indigenous faculty. And, of course, it is consistent with the denigration of anyone associated with the slave-holding era. Continue reading
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:
- 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.
- Mr. Jefferson: We will fight to protect the legacy of Mr. Jefferson as our Founder and as a Founding Father of America.
- The Lawn: We will fight to remove all signage from the Lawn doors and preserve the sanctity of the Academic Village.
- 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.
by James A. Bacon
The memorial to the slaves who labored at the University of Virginia is a quiet, dignified and moving tribute to the Virginians whose contributions to the university went unappreciated and unrecognized for too long. Yesterday my wife and I visited the memorial, which was dedicated almost a year ago, for the first time. It is a wonderful example of the “additive” approach to remembering our past — adding new layers of understanding — as opposed to the purgative approach of blotting out the remembrance of those who made significant contributions to society but whose association with slavery, the Confederacy or segregation offend modern-day sensibilities. Continue reading