by Allan Stam
Why should you care about faculty review policies at the University of Virginia and other public Virginia universities? You should care because they affect which faculty are likely to stay at a university and which faculty are likely to move on. In other words, they affect who will teach your children and grandchildren.
You should want universities to keep professors who conduct state-of-the-art research and excel at teaching their scholarly discipline. But that’s not what you’re going to get with the new guidelines issued by the UVa College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. (See the previous post.)
Pay raises and the annual reviews that affect them are powerful administrative tools that universities use to incentivize faculty efforts. Given that there are only so many hours in a day, faculty allocate their time towards areas that their employers reward and away from those that they do not. Continue reading
by James A. Bacon
This month University of Virginia departments embark upon a four- to five-month “peer review” of faculty members. The stakes are high. Scores from the review will affect merit raises and prospects for promotion.
New this year: Twenty percent of the scores will be awarded on the basis of the faculty member’s contributions to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI).
In theory, the “guidance” issued by the dean’s office of the College of Arts & Sciences allow individual departments some latitude in how they conduct their peer reviews. But the language, though bland and formulaic, is clear: professors who fail to enlist in social-justice activism will have a less-than-promising future at UVa.
Evaluations of each faculty member’s “performance” will be shared with other faculty members. There is no uniform standard for weighting the scores, but if departmental reports don’t specify otherwise, the “default” mode is 40% teaching, 40% research, and 20% DEI. Continue reading
by Walter Smith
“And when memory failed and written records were falsified—when that happened, the claim of the Party to have improved the conditions of human life had got to be accepted, because there did not exist, and never again could exist, any standard against which it could be tested.” — George Orwell, “1984”
Charlottesville City Council recently voted to give the city’s Robert E. Lee statue to The Jefferson School African American Heritage Center. The “Jefferson Center” (a deceptive name for a school that hates Jefferson) proposes to melt the statue and remold it into a new piece of public art that “expresses the city’s values of inclusivity and racial justice. … Our hope … is to create something that transforms what was once toxic in our public spaces into something beautiful and more reflective of our entire community’s social values.”
According to WINA News Radio, The Memory Project of the Democracy Initiative of the University of Virginia and other persons and entities, including the George Soros Open Society Foundations are listed as the first sponsor of this initiative. Continue reading
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
by James A. Bacon
In the fall convocation ceremonies at the University of Virginia this week, President Jim Ryan said many things that once upon a time would have been considered unremarkable. The purpose of a UVa education, he said, is to pursue the truth. The search for truth is unending, and progress toward the truth is predicated upon free speech and open inquiry. UVa is a place for honest and respectful conversations between those who disagree, Ryan said. UVa is a place where civil dialogues can take place.
An alumnus in the audience, Bert Ellis, was reassured by Ryan’s words. Ellis is president of The Jefferson Council, a group dedicated to upholding the Jeffersonian legacy at UVa that has catalogued the suppression of free speech and expression and the drift toward intellectual conformity, and he was primed to be skeptical.
“All in all, I liked his remarks,” says Ellis. “I was pleasantly surprised by his references to and respect for Mr. Jefferson and his legacy and with his very strong support for open dialogue and for the Honor System. I hope his actions over the upcoming school year will be as strong as his words.”
Here follows the transcript of an entirely fictional videoconference between University of Virginia President Jim Ryan and his Executive Cabinet. The author is not intending to be satirical. He is illuminating the issues that any honest effort to implement a Diversity, Equity & Inclusion agenda will encounter. — JAB
by Jon Jewett
President Ryan: I have called this meeting to address the most important problem facing the University today — systemic racism. It is imperative that we make significant progress towards a solution during the 2021-22 academic year. In view of their critical roles in determining how we as a university address this problem, I have asked Greg Roberts, Dean of Admissions, Ian Baucom, Dean of Arts and Sciences. Risa Goluboff, Dean of the Law School, and David Wilkes, Dean of the School of Medicine, to join us.
I trust that by now you have all read Ibram X. Kendi’s How to be an Antiracist. If not, you should. Make that “must.’ Kendi’s basic message can be summed up as “No More Excuses.” We all know that all races are equal. Yet there are huge disparities between whites and blacks in this country, and in this University. Supposedly we have been working to eliminate those disparities at least since the civil rights movement of the 1960’s, but they have barely changed over the last 50 years. What we have been doing has simply not worked, and it is time to recognize that reality. Kevin McDonald, Vice President for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Community Partnerships, will first explain what our goals must be if we are to have an anti-racist university, and then I will call on others to explain how we will achieve those goals. Kevin? Continue reading
by Walter Smith
What is the mission of the University of Virginia’s Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion?
You can try reading the Office’s “Mission” here, but that won’t clear anything up. The document is so loaded with jargon and fuzzy thinking that it won’t mean much to anyone untrained in diversity speak.
I have a few questions. Continue reading
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
The University of Virginia perpetuated the damaging stereotype of African- American society as an intellectual monoculture today with the release of speakers in its upcoming Racial Equity Speaker series. The three speakers represent a narrow range of black views on the issue of racism in America. Continue reading
by Walter Smith
The Virginia Magazine newsletter recently featured this article on two newly formed commissions: one to articulate the university’s commitment to free expression and inquiry, the other to pursue recommendations of the Racial Equity Task Force regarding the renaming of buildings and memorials.
Regarding the first commission, the fact that an internationally respected institution founded by Thomas Jefferson, perhaps history’s greatest advocate for free speech, finds it necessary to study the issue is damning on its own terms. No further comment needed.
My primary complaint dwells on the naming and renaming commission. To start with, I cannot believe a name of an inanimate building, thing or place is truly “harmful” to any thinking person. You could name the buildings after Hitler, Mao, Stalin, Idi Amin, Pol Pot, Nebuchadnezzar, Genghis Khan, or any other offensive person you can think of, and I would not be “harmed.” I might think you were stupid, but I wouldn’t be harmed. Continue reading