Tag Archives: Letters

This Is It! Act Now to Save the Honor Code, or It Dies

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

Intolerance, Distrust, Divisiveness

Letter by math major Katharine Hennessy in The Wall Street Journal

Critical race theory and related ideologies dominate the University of Virginia’s campus culture. Beta Bridge, painted by students in a longstanding UVA tradition, was painted over the summer with “ACAB” — short for “all cops are bastards.” The Washington and Jefferson societies barely hold formal debates anymore; any disagreement with current woke standards is unacceptable. Students feel compelled to fall in line or risk being ostracized. Continue reading

Freedom for All or Just for Some?

My son is a third year at UVA. Sadly, he is not having the experience he would have liked. He introduced me to your Jefferson Cabinet website. I thought I would share an email I recently sent to President Ryan. Keep fighting the good fight. — Georganne K. Mallas, CLAS 1995

Dear President Ryan,

I write to share that while I was appreciative of the University offering students a remote winter term class option at no additional tuition charge, I must say, I was appalled by the content of my son’s winter term class: The Art of Resistance. Continue reading

Nov. 22, 2020 Letter from Aubrey M. Daniel III to Rector James B. Murray, Jr.

Dear Rector Murray,

Honor calls us to be honorable to each other not merely by not committing
transgressions, but also by doing reverence to the other in our midst.
— by Professor Michael Suarez, S.J.
Adopted by the Honor Committee

UVa’s Lawn Scandal — Bad Leadership and Worse Lawyering
— by James C. Sherlock

The Jaw Dropping Political Contributions of UVa’s Board of Visitors
— by DJ Rippert

Ryan Wilts in Conversation with [his student]
— by James A. Bacon

GRIM: President Ryan shouldn’t live in a mansion
By Adam Grim

The reasons I decided to return to this debate are all shown above, as well as my review of your last letter. I am deeply concerned about the health of The Honor Code, headlines which demonstrate the reputation of the University has been tarnished, as well as the financial damage caused by lost donations, all of which will continue unless you fulfill your fiduciary duties to the University and the
people of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Continue reading

“The Greatest Threat to Academic Freedom and Integrity in UVa’s History”

Joel Gardner, Undergraduate class of 1970; Law School class of 1974.

Letter from Joel Gardner, author of “From Rebel Yell to Revolution,” to President Jim Ryan.

Jim,

First, I would like to thank you once again for being on the zoom call last week. I thought it was a very worthwhile discussion, but unfortunately, with the limited time allotted, it was only possible to skim the surface of the many crucial issues now facing the University. And as someone who has closely followed the history of the University on a real time basis for the past five decades as a Double Hoo, two time parent, member of four University boards, inveterate fundraiser and University historian, I truly believe we are at a decisive inflection point in our University’s existence.

With that in mind, I will take you up on your suggestion for us to send you recommendations and advice on how we might together address some of these critical concerns. In that regard, I’m sure you will be pleased to know that this will not include recommendations regarding the Lawn room signs. I will omit this for two reasons. First, I am sure you have already heard every iteration of the various arguments. Second, while I still disagree with how the University approached this issue, I believe you made a cogent and reasonable argument supporting your actions–in effect that forcibly removing the signs would make those students martyrs and only increase support for them among other students and faculty who thus far have not been generally supportive. Moreover, the Lawn room debacle is but a symptom of a much larger and more important set of problems at the University. Continue reading

“Where Did This Sudden Hate for the University Come From?”

Letter from Hooper Neale, Class of 2017…

I would like to start this letter out by saying that I love the University of Virginia. I attended UVA from August 2013 – May 2017, and those were probably the best four years of my life thus far. Twenty-nineteen was another one of my favorite years, largely because I travelled to Minneapolis in April to see the UVA basketball team win March Madness, and then travelled to Philadelphia the
next month to see the Lacrosse team take home a championship as well.

Everyone who knows me realizes my deep love for UVA and my passion for encouraging others to attend and/or visit the University, in hope that they may experience the same love I have. Unsurprisingly, it has been heartbreaking for me to see what has been allowed at the University during the past month
and a half. Continue reading

Oct. 12, 2020 Letter from Aubrey Daniel to Rector James B. Murray, Jr.

Aubrey M. Daniel III, an alumnus of the University of Virginia and the University of Richmond law school, made his name as a young Judge Advocate General captain who successfully prosecuted the court-martial of Lt. William L. Calley Jr. for his role in the infamous My Lai Massacre. Daniel went on, after his military career, to become a top litigator with the Williams & Connolly LLP law firm.

Letter from an alumnus…

“We ought not to die before we have explained ourselves.”
  –Thomas Jefferson

I have read your response and the advice given to you by University Counsel, Timothy J. Heaphy, both dated September 29. Rather than characterizing your response as a “Statement in Support of the Administration,” wouldn’t it be more accurate to say it is your defense of President Ryan’s conduct and not that of the entire administration? However, if you were involved in making the decision to do nothing, that decision should be more carefully scrutinized. It certainly could reveal a bias in your evaluation of President Ryan’s conduct.

I was somewhat surprised that President Ryan did not respond on his own behalf to my letter. Now he has in his statement, “Great and Good Revisited,” on October 02 and in his message to me on October 05.

Continue reading

Newspeak for a Racial Spoils System

Photo credit: Washington Post

Letter from Walter L. Smith

How did this alumni disconnect happen?

Over the years I think alumni have become inured to politics coming out of our academical village, in line with a Jeffersonian belief in free speech. But that creeping politicization has now become an obsession which seems to have reached a peak with the Unite the Right rally and stayed at that level since, to the detriment of actual intellectual inquiry and reasoned discourse. Since the Unite the Right rally it seems all the alumni hear from the people in charge of the University is racism and contextualization – ponderously named Committees to study “controversial” topics and make recommendations which seem aimed at wiping out history in the name of “racial equity.”

Published reports about the Unite the Right rally describe the “white supremacists” as ranging from dozens to 250. While I am not sure all of the people were actually “white supremacists,” to gather a group of 250 of them required an assemblage from all over the United States. I would guess that there
are more dangerous drunks in Charlottesville on a football weekend than “white supremacists” in all of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Seriously, 250 (at most) whackos “took over” our Grounds that good people needed to take them back and wear TAKEBACKOURGROUNDS wristbands years later? Continue reading

“Enough Is enough. Where does this end?”

Thomas M. Neale
College ’74

Dear President Ryan, Provost Magill, Dean of Students Groves, VP for Advancement Mark Luellen, and the University Board of Visitors:

The signatories below and I are writing you in light of the Friday, September 11, Board of Visitors decision to act on the recommendations of the Racial Equity Task Force, among which is a decision to “contextualize” the Thomas Jefferson Statue in front of the Rotunda.

Many universities across America are renaming endowments, removing statues, and eradicating the names of prominent alumni/ae and benefactors whose names adorn university buildings and academic departments. The men and women whose names are being removed do not meet the ethical criteria or
societal norms of our 21st century culture according to the Faculty,  Administrative leadership, and governing Boards of these universities. In short, these decisions are made, and judgments decreed, based upon revisionist historical analyses rather than the ethical norms and moral tenets that were
prevalent during these men and women’s lifetimes.

I will cite two of the best known incidents since one is germane to a prominent UVA alumnus and the other is from a nearby respected university undergoing similar internal critical Progressive self-analysis: Continue reading