Tune In, Watch Edwin Alderman Get Canceled

by James A. Bacon

Tomorrow afternoon, Feb. 29, the University of Virginia Board of Visitors is scheduled to vote on renaming Alderman Library to the Edgar Shannon Library. The Jefferson Council urges friends of the Council to watch the event on live-streamed video. The board discussion, if any, will take place during time allotted for the Buildings & Grounds Committee between 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Click here to watch the live stream.

A vote had been scheduled during the December 2013 Board meeting but the agenda item was withdrawn after it was clear that the administration lacked the votes to enact the name change. Now the administration is back, having recalculated the odds, although it may be getting a bit ahead of itself by titling the agenda item as “Renaming the Edgar Shannon Library,” not “Renaming the Alderman Library,” which is its name now and will be until the Board votes.

Support for the name change, as seen in posters on Library walls, has justified stuffing Edwin Alderman’s name down the memory hole on the grounds that the UVA president, who served between 1904 and 1931, was a racist who supported eugenics. Known as a “progressive” in the mold of Woodrow Wilson, Alderman also was one of the most consequential leaders in UVA’s history.

The Ryan administration has chosen a different tack than the cancel-culture critics, acknowledging Alderman’s contributions, ignoring his negatives, and emphasizing that the name change will honor Shannon, also a consequential leader.

“In many respects [Alderman] brought the University into the first half of the 20th century and was principally responsible for giving the University the organization and ethos by which it then operated,” says the Board of Visitors agenda item summary. “Similarly, President Edgar Shannon, the University’s fourth president who served from 1959 until 1974, ushered UVA into the second half of the 20th century and transformed UVA into a modern research university.”

“As the University recently completed an extensive major project to create a modern, state-of-the art main library through completely renovating the historic portion of the facility, demolishing the ‘new’ stacks, and constructing a new addition, it is presented with an opportunity to recognize another past president who built upon the many achievements of President Alderman,” the agenda-item summary continued.

With this framing of the issue, the administration shrewdly dodges the criticism that it is engaging in “presentism” — projecting present values onto the past — and canceling historic figures who don’t measure up. Yet it is impossible to deny that Alderman was most closely associated with the library, having conceived and launched the project.

Some critics of the name change argue that canceling Alderman paves the way for erasing UVA’s past and ultimately canceling Thomas Jefferson himself. If holding views deemed racist by the woke intelligentsia is sufficient to take down Alderman, by what logic is UVA’s founder, who owned slaves, spared?

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Clarity77
Clarity77
1 month ago

Shannon IMO was in no way as consequential as Alderman and served as president barely half as long as Alderman. I was a student on Grounds when he finished his stint in 1974, and I do not recall his being given any particular noteworthy praise amongst the University community other than a simple acknowledgement when passing the baton to Hereford.

I do note that Hereford was prominently honored in the naming of Hereford College whereas I am drawing a blank as to Shannon “anything” currently on Grounds.

Not surprised as to the plastering of walls in Alderman Library with posters supporting the name change to Shannon as it is well known John Unsworth, the dean of the library, is an avowed Marxist. I am sure Unsworth plans to put this particular “feather in his cap” as he looks to the future with the prospect of adding the even bigger “feather,” that being eradication of Jefferson, the very father of our University.

Will the BOV come to their senses and stand against this madness or will they so act as perpetrators such as to cause February 29 to become a day of infamy in University history?

James B Newman
James B Newman
1 month ago

It’s just wrong. Yet this nonsense just goes on and on and on.
When is the BOV going to stop the madness?

UVA Past
UVA Past
1 month ago

I am sure this action will lower poverty and crime rates in Charlottesville and raise the SOLs.

Lorna gladstone
Lorna gladstone
1 month ago
Reply to  UVA Past

Haha. Good one.

Lorna gladstone
Lorna gladstone
1 month ago

Shannon was nice but a great intellect but of course, uncontroversial. Did nothing one way or another. Of course he should be honored for doing nothing. Safe. The Board should be ashamed if this goes through

walter smith
walter smith
1 month ago

Folks…get on the train or get run over!
I think Newcomb Hall, with all of the grievance groups housed there, needs to be renamed – The James E. Ryan Center for Inclusive Excellence and Indoctrination.
Who’s with me?

Clarity77
Clarity77
1 month ago
Reply to  walter smith

I would agree except might be a little premature as the Ryan cabal is not quite finished cooking up more grievance groups to add. As in more +’s to the LGBTQ+ Center.

In the meantime though as a start I am sure they would be thrilled with the naming of the first on Grounds transgender/non-binary bathroom on the Fifth Floor for Ryan.
Quite revolutionary.

Check it out next time you visit Newcomb. Easy to find as it is right adjacent to the first ever on Grounds Muslim bath room just down the hall from the Cav Daily student propaganda office.

It features a foot washing station which comes in handy apparently for more reasons than I should probably share here. Just ask the Japanese and their sudden need for foot washing stations if you have been following their protests of late as Muslims pour into their country courtesy of our US ambassador, Rahm Immanuel.

walter smith
walter smith
1 month ago
Reply to  Clarity77

Where I got the idea…
I was there early for the Haidt event and walked all over and around and noticed Newcomb was just grievance group central…That’s how you unite people – make them all group together into smaller groups with an axe to grind – saying “Accept me for my differences!!!” And then yell, “Quit treating me differently!!!”
An Alinsky trap.

Freedom and justice for all
Freedom and justice for all
1 month ago

It seems that the Jefferson Council’s views on Palestine are quite unpopular amongst the student body (;

Referendum 1:
Yes, I am in favor of the proposed actions: 5,425 (67.87%)
No, I am not in favor of the proposed actions: 2,568 (32.13%)

Cat Stevens, “Changes IV”

“Don’t you feel a change a coming
From another side of time
Breaking down the walls of silence
Lifting shadows from your mind
Placing back the missing mirrors
That before you couldn’t find
Filling mysteries of emptiness
That yesterday left behind

And we all know it’s better
Yesterday has past
Now let’s all start the living
For the one that’s going to last
And we all know it’s better
Yesterday has past
Now let’s all start the living
For the one that’s going to last”

walter smith
walter smith
1 month ago

That just shows that the students who voted in favor lack a proper moral compass and understanding of human nature and world history. I avoided saying stup!d, but probably a fair dose of that too.

Notice you haven’t been censored?
I’m guessing you are Shame and I think one other pseudonymous name.

The reason the founders set up a republic was to protect from mob rule, which often went into frenzy and too far.

When Hamas stops planning and murdering innocent people, gives up all the hostages, quits building tunnels, quits using citizens as shields, maybe I’ll consider a stop reasonable. But Hamas won’t. So it is on the “innocent” Gazans to denounce Hamas and remove it from power, but they won’t, so this is what you get.

Wahoo 76
Wahoo 76
1 month ago

Lyrics from a Cat Stevens song make your point much more convincing. And the students are like sheep following the woke herd.

J. Swift
J. Swift
1 month ago
Reply to  Wahoo 76

Cat Stevens, who (as then naming himself Yusuf Islam) endorsed Ayatollah Khomeini’s 1989 death warrant (_fatwa_) for Salman Rushdie for “blashphemy” for writing an explicitly *fictional* book.

Robert Pyles MD
Robert Pyles MD
1 month ago

Since the Library began with Jefferson’s extensive library,
why not call it “The Jefferson Library”?