CHARLOTTESVILLE (June 29, 2023)—The Jefferson Council applauds Governor Glenn Youngkin’s appointment of four fresh faces to the University of Virginia Board of Visitors. With Youngkin appointees now numbering eight on the 17-person board, we look forward to changes at UVa that reflect the Governor’s priorities and address the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on racial preferences in admissions.
The four individuals include:
- Paul C. Harris of Richmond, Executive Vice President, Chief Sustainability and Compliance Officer, Huntington Ingalls Industries
- Paul B. Manning of Charlottesville, Chairman and CEO, PBM Capital Group
- John L. Nau, III of Houston, Texas, Chairman and CEO of Silver Eagle Beverages
- Rachel Sheridan of McLean, Partner, Kirkland & Ellis
The Governor offered no comment on the logic behind his selections, and we are not privy to his thinking. Manning and Nau are both generous benefactors to UVa as well as major donors to Republican candidates and PACs. Harris and Sheridan bring welcome diversity to the Board.
Presumably, the appointees share the Governor’s philosophy of reframing “Diversity, Equity & Inclusion” as “Diversity, Opportunity & Inclusion” in state government, and are comfortable with the statement by his chief diversity officer Martin D. Brown, who declared DEI to be “dead” at the Virginia Military Institute. In a ruling that appears to be consistent with the Governor’s vision, the U.S. Supreme Court has just declared that higher-ed institutions may not use race as a criterion in admitting students.
“Today the Supreme Court ruled that Harvard and the University of North Carolina’s admissions policies violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. This in effect is the death knell for Affirmative Action,” said Jefferson Council President Tom Neale. “The Jefferson Council strongly supports diversity based on merit-based admissions for all. We are confident that the eight Youngkin appointees will start to return the University to its Jeffersonian principles of civil dialogue in a community marked by intellectual diversity.”
“The current Board of Visitors has already endorsed free speech and viewpoint diversity as core values of UVa, and we expect the new Board will broaden the discussion on how to re-define Diversity, Equity & Inclusion,” said Executive Director James A. Bacon. “We would like to see a shift away from the cultivation of grievances and differences, which we believe isolates and alienates minority students, to a celebration of opportunity and achievement.”