Tag Archives: Letters

In Defense of an Inviolable Honor Code

Dishonesty is the root cause of all human evil. The Honor System at the University Of Virginia attempts to get to the very heart of our problem. Honor is your adherence to the truth.

Dishonesty starts with your being dishonest with yourself about yourself, and your being dishonest with yourself about Reality. Living in a world you created: You choose fantasy, and, consequently, dishonesty.

Jefferson honored the phrase, “The Truth Will Make You Free.” Jefferson could see that if all people were honest, there would be no cheating, no crime, no war. Personal honor — honesty — is the foundation of civilization.

— Piers Woodriff College, 1971

UVa Should Grow Adults, Not Coddle Children

The Editorial Board of The Cavalier Daily has taken a dishonorable, unenlightened, and untenable position. The March 17th op-ed stating that students at The University are incapable of listening to a speaker and that speech threatens their very “lives” reveals a childish and churlish attitude that is in opposition to the values of The University, the values of civil society, and the values of America. Jonathon Haidt correctly noted that this generation has minds that have been “coddled” so much that they lack understanding of basic principles and are guided by many “untruths.” This article has the hallmarks of all of those untruths, starting with the headline. Continue reading

No Need for Archivists to Fight White Supremacy!

Nancy Miller is a University of Virginia alumna, class of 1975.

I recently became aware of your organization, and I wanted to send a letter of thanks to the Jefferson Council for covering events in the University Library (“How Not to Create a Diverse, Welcoming Workplace”, September 27, 2021; and “No Woke-ism to See Here, Move Along Now”, March 9, 2022). I am a retired professional librarian and archivist (with 16 years of experience as an archivist in Philadelphia, including ten years at the University of Pennsylvania Archives from 2004-2014). I am also an alumna of the University of Virginia (BA 1975), and I have a keen interest in ensuring the future success of the Library. Continue reading

Tie Ryan’s Pay Raise to Free-Speech Performance

Stanley K. Joynes III is a University of Virginia alumnus, College, Class of 1977 and Law, Class of 1981.

I recall the disgust many felt when the University of Virginia Board of Visitors decided not only to restore the modest pay cuts taken by President Ryan and his executive posse in mid-COVID, but then to award a bonus — the disgust centering around the asymmetry of their action in the face of the closures and bankruptcies of dozens (hundreds?) of local small businesses and the loss of jobs principally at the lower end of the pay scale. Continue reading

Year-End UVa Update from Bert Ellis

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of my fellow Wahoos:

I am extremely pleased with the results of the Virginia elections. Governor Youngkin and Lt. Governor Winsome Sears and Attorney Gen Jason Miyares are all very interested in re-focusing UVA and other colleges and K-12 schools in Virginia on educating students and not brainwashing them with the Woke/CRT/DEI mantras that have overtaken UVA and almost all other colleges and K-12 schools in Virginia and across our country.

The most immediate opportunities for the Governor are his selections for the Board of Visitors. Over the next four years, he can totally replace the Board with his nominees. There are 19 total members of the Board of Visitors, 17 of whom serve 2-year terms and one faculty rep and one student rep each serving 1-year terms.

The Board of Visitors hires/fires the President and manages the overall strategy of the University and the University Health System. This current Board are all appointees of either former Governor McAuliffe or outgoing (thank heaven) Governor Northam and are responsible for letting the University make the outrageous changes that have been made over the tenures of Presidents Sullivan and Ryan. Continue reading

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.


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