Category Archives: Education (higher ed)

UVa President Ryan Has “No Idea.” Golly Gee.

by James C. Sherlock

As a follow-up to yesterday’s story on the slide show for the UVa Board of Visitors on DEI at the University, I think it only fair to offer President Ryan’s preamble to that presentation.

To summarize:

  • He cannot imagine what all the fuss is about; but
  • He assures that DEI efforts at UVa are misconstrued by critics, who he divides into two camps:
    1. those who support the goals of DEI “but are concerned about overreach threatening academic freedoms or seem designed to enforce ideological conformity”; and
    2. “one that asserts that the programs are being used to promote a stringently liberal, if not radical agenda – one that stands in opposition to merit and excellence and unfairly privileges certain groups over others.”
  • He asserts that any fair criticisms will be taken seriously; and
  • He is trying to create a level playing field.

He asserts that:

We ought to define the terms that comprise DEI; assess and resolve instances where DEI efforts are in potential conflict with other core values; and continually examine what is working and what is not and adjust accordingly.

He then proceeds to define the terms diversity, equity and inclusion in a clear attempt to push critics of his DEI program, expanded enormously in a progressive attempt to “never let a crisis go to waste” in 2020, to the edges of reasoned debate.

He professes he has “no idea where this notion” (that equity means equal outcomes) came from. This from a man whose own DEI bureaucracy publishes only statistical outcomes.

“No idea.”

I call this the “golly gee” approach. “Golly gee” indicates surprise, excitement or both from an innocent in the ways of the world.

Seriously?  Spare us. Continue reading

UVa Board Trims Next-Year Tuition by 0.7%. Big Whoop.

by James A. Bacon

Responding to a Youngkin administration request for Virginia’s public colleges and universities to curb tuition increases, the University of Virginia Board of Visitors voted this morning to reduce a scheduled 3.7% tuition hike next year to 3.0%.

As explained by Chief Operating Officer J.J. Davis, the shaving of $5.5 million from the budget represents a “good faith” effort to comply with the administration’s request. But in response to a question, she acknowledged that it only “partially” complied.

“This is very late in the budgetary cycle,” which closes June 30, said former Rector and the board’s financial guru James Murray. “We’re supposed to have a budget number in March. It’s very difficult in this point the year to say, ‘Go find millions of dollars.'” He described the partial rollback as “a concession to political reality.”

In other business, the Board also approved a $5.4 billion operating budget for Fiscal 2023-24, which begins July 1. The budget encompasses the academic divisions of the University of Virginia main campus, the campus in Wise, and the UVa Health System. The UVa main campus operating budget amounts to nearly $2.3 billion.

To an outside observer, the proceedings were remarkable — for the lack of oversight. Board input into what is arguably the most important vote of the year was inconsequential. Aside from praise for the UVa financial staff and a few requests for clarifications, board members had little to say. They offered no substantive questions. They provided zero pushback. Continue reading

DEI Presentation at Tomorrow’s UVa Board of Visitors Meeting Attempts to Deflect the Discussion

by James C. Sherlock

Tomorrow, June 2, there will be a meeting of the Board of Visitors at the University of Virginia.

The University has published a preview of a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion presentation to the Board.

That presentation is designed quite clearly to deflect the conversation from the true issues.  It attempts to:

  • center the discussions on issues the university president wishes to defend; and
  • define terms in ways he wishes to defend them.

I offer some questions and observations.

Slide: Racial and gender diversity at UVA are relatively new – and our DEI work is even newer.  The presentation is off to a weak start. Setting the stage for the DEI discussion with race and gender is a deflection.

For example, white students have been underrepresented in the undergraduate and graduate school populations at UVa since at least 2010 as compared to whites in the population as a whole in both the United States and Virginia. Females outnumber males in the UVa student population by roughly 60% to 40%.

Those are facts.  They raise the question of the true reason for the recent expansion of DEI bureaucracy.

Let’s see if we can find it. Continue reading

Ryan Calls for a Kinder, Gentler DEI

by James A. Bacon

As the University of Virginia Board of Visitors gears up for a discussion of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at its June board meeting, President Jim Ryan has made the case for a kinder, gentler DEI in an essay recently published in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Forgoing the rhetoric of “anti-racism” theorists such as Ibram X. Kendi, Ryan argues that DEI is misunderstood. There is no talk in the essay about “white supremacy,” “white privilege,” “structural racism” or other leftist buzzwords.

Indeed, Ryan argues that the most contentious element of DEI — equity — does not mean striving for equal outcomes, as many conservatives say it does. Sounding very much like Virginia’s Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin, Ryan contends that “equity” really means equal “opportunity.” Unlike Youngkin, who renamed the state’s office of DEI to the office of Diversity, Opportunity, and Inclusion, however, Ryan is satisfied to retain the equity label and redefine it in more benign terms.

The tone in Ryan’s essay is moderate and reasonable. Political conservatives and moderates would not find much to argue with. The problem is that the words are largely divorced from reality. One is driven to conclude either that UVa’s president, insulated by layer upon layer of management, does not know what is occurring at the institution he leads or, worse, he does know and he is doing his best to obscure it. Continue reading

UVa Takes on A Daunting Task – Reforming Its Own Management and Administrative Structure

By James C. Sherlock

A favorite topic of mine is management and administrative overhead in state government institutions of higher learning.

While a major university is a very large business with significant management and administrative needs, the overhead numbers seem higher than necessary.

Overhead has certainly grown over the last few decades at a rate far in excess of the increases in tenured instructional and research faculty and students.

This excessive overhead is expensive in multiple ways including:

  • very high dollar costs;
  • the time that line academics consume for meetings with and reports to the leaders, managers and administrators; and
  • general slowness of decision cycles.

To investigate, I singled out the flagship University of Virginia for an informal audit.

The University, to its credit, has decided to take on the task of streamlining and rationalizing its management and administrative structure.

That castle will prove very difficult to storm.  Yet a siege may take literally forever.  The defenders are powerful, well-entrenched and well-provisioned.

Continue reading

Which of These Persons at UVa Oversees the Educational Development of the Rest?

by James C. Sherlock

In order to illustrate the truly insulting nature of the DEI program at the University of Virginia, I offer the following quiz.

See if you can pick out the person pictured who:

directs a range of educational programming focused on educational development for staff, faculty and students.

Nana Last, Professor of Architecture

Ira C. Harris, Professor, McIntyre School of Commerce

Sankaran Venkataraman, Professor, Darden School of Business

Sandhya Dwarkadas, Professor and Chair Department of Computer Science

Tisha Hayes, Professor of Education

Trinh Thuan, Professor Emeritus, Department of Astronomy

Kelsey Johnson Professor of Astronomy

Haibo Dong Professor Aerospace Engineering

Sly Mata, Director of Diversity Education, Division for DEI

Nicole Thorne Jenkins, Dean, McIntyre School of Commerce

Devin K. Harris, Professor of Engineering

Mool C. Gupta, Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Tomonari Furukawa, Professor of Engineering

Allan Tsung M.D., Professor and Chair Department of Surgery, Medical School

Sallie Keller, Professor of Data Science

Harsha Chelliah, Professor School of Engineering






Bottom line.  
Good guess.

There is every evidence that Mr. Mata is a fine man. His biography is inspiring.

But the people pictured above who are not Mr. Mata excelled and earned their plaudits and appointments before there was a UVa Division for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI).  Even before James Ryan was President. Continue reading

Read It and Weep – DEI at UVa

Navy helicopter overflies UVa Disharoon Park as team stands at attention for national anthem. Photos By Sanjay Suchak,

by James C. Sherlock

Kerry Daugherty’s column this morning was heart-wrenching for anyone who cares at all about kids’ educations.  The Norfolk School Board voted 6-1…

to begin teaching gender ideology, masturbation, sexual identity, homosexuality, abortion and lesbianism in middle and high schools.

To kids who cannot read or perform mathematics at grade level.

Now we get a look at what awaits any kid who escapes Norfolk public schools with sufficient skills and diversity credits to get accepted into the University of Virginia (UVa).

They will be welcomed by a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) bureaucracy so large, powerful and widely distributed that a DEI factotum will:

  • review and grade their application in the recruitment process;
  • exercise authority over the curriculum and faculty;
  • monitor their progress; and
  • interview each candidate for graduate school and meet with each annually to assess political views.

If I just told you how this works as above, you would think I was making it up.

So I will quote from UVa’s website. Continue reading

Clear Violations of Title IX in Employment at UVa

Courtesy UVa Office for Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights

by James C. Sherlock

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX) prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.

It covers employees as well as students.

There is clear work to do at UVa for its Title IX staff.

We’ll sample the problems.

Arts and Sciences. A look at the leadership team of the College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences must especially be troubling to the Title IX staff, if indeed they examine it.

Dean Christa Acampora, her senior special assistant, her chief of staff, and Senior Associate Dean for Administration and Planning are all women.

All six of the Associate Deans are females:

  • Associate Dean for Social Sciences (Professor)
  • Associate Dean for Arts & Humanities (Professor)
  • Associate Dean for the Sciences and Research (Professor)
  • Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
  • Associate Dean for Undergraduate Academic Programs (Professor)
  • Associate Dean for Graduate Education (Associate Professor)

Correct. In Arts and Sciences, a female Associate Professor is Dean for Graduate Education, not a professor.

Since A&S does its own hiring and promotions, it should be pretty easy for the Title IX office to find the people to interview about discrimination on the basis of sex in that department.

School of Education and Human Development. The Dean and four of the six members of her leadership team at the ed school are women.

One of the two males among those seven people in leadership positions in that school is the Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Which is almost amusing if you think about it.

School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Compared to those two schools, the engineering school leadership is relatively balanced. It includes:

  • a female Dean;
  • a female Senior Executive Assistant;
  • women hold four of the eight department chairs;
  • women are two of the seven Associate Deans;
  • a female Assistant Dean for Graduate Affairs;
  • a female Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Affairs;
  • a female Director of Operations, Engineering Systems and Environment;
  • a female Director, Center for Applied Mathematics.

Bottom line. I believe in enforcement of all laws.

And I am not even a male professor trying to get promoted in UVa’s School of A&S or of Education.

Nor am I Rachel Spraker, Senior Director for Equity and Inclusive Excellence, who leads UVa’s employment equity team.

It will be interesting to see what role the Provost, the immediate past Dean of A&S, plays in this.

Title IX is there to be enforced. Perhaps the Title IX office at the federal Department of Education will be interested in enforcing it.

I’ll check.

Is This Cartoon Racist?

by James A. Bacon

Is the cartoon above, drawn by Virginia Military Institute alumnus Matt Daniel, racist?

Former Governor L. Douglas Wilder thinks so. “It’s clearly racist,” he told Washington Post reporter Ian Shapira after Shapira showed it to him.

Shapira evidently thinks so, too. “Some say” the depiction of Martin Brown, Virginia’s African-American director of Diversity, Opportunity & Inclusion, “resembles a monkey,” he wrote.

Wilder is one person. The word “some” implies that there are others. None are named or alluded to. In a long-standing Washington Post reportorial tradition of the scribe attributing his own opinions to nameless others, Shapira appears to be referencing himself.

Shapira was decent enough to quote Daniel, who happens to be chairman of the Spirit of VMI PAC and a defender of VMI traditions that Shapira has relentlessly assailed as racist and sexist. “It is not a monkey. That doesn’t even make sense,” Daniel texted. “It is a voodoo doll in a business suit being harassed by a hostile writer.”

So… whom do we believe? Let’s undertake a critical examination of the cartoon to see whose interpretation — Shapira’s or Daniels’ — makes the most sense. Continue reading

To Teach Is To Touch the Future

by Bill Bolling

As most of you know, I left my professional career in the insurance business behind in 2018 to pursue a passion for teaching. For the past five years I’ve had the privilege of teaching young people about politics and government.

I started out guest lecturing at James Madison University, and for the past four years have taught my own classes at George Mason University and Virginia Commonwealth University.

I have great respect for my colleagues who have traditional academic backgrounds, but I really appreciate universities like GMU and VCU who are also willing to give teachers like me, who are more “professors of practice,” an opportunity to share my experience with students in the classroom.

Teaching is hard work, but it’s also extremely important. The greatest reward as a teacher is when you connect with a student and have an impact on their future direction. Toward that end, I thought I would share an email I received this week from one of my students:

Professor Bolling, I’ll be graduating this week and just wanted to write and thank you for all you have done to help advance my educational journey. I took my first class from you totally by accident, and was shocked to find out that my professor was the former Lieutenant Governor of Virginia.

I loved that class. I learned so much, not just from the textbook, but from someone who had actually been there, working in government at the state and local level. Since then I have taken every class you have offered. You quickly became my favorite professor, and I have learned so much from you.

I’ve already been hired to go to work on Capitol Hill, and I can’t wait to get started. I know I will put much of what you taught me into practice, and I promise to do my part to make government work! You taught me a lot, and for that I will always be grateful.

Folks, that’s exactly why teachers do what they do. They don’t do it for the money or the prestige. They get very little of either. They do it to have an impact on the lives of the students they teach.

At least for today, I feel that my journey as a teacher has had an impact. That’s all I ever wanted, and it’s all any teacher can ask for.

Bill Bolling spent 22 years in elected office including eight years as 39th Lieutenant Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia. This column was originally published in Bearing Drift and is republished here with permission.

How UVa Offsets Bureaucratic Bloat

by James A. Bacon

College Simply‘s 2023 Best Value Colleges in America ranks the University of Virginia as the 2nd “best value” among public colleges and universities in the United States in 2023. The best-value distinction is conferred upon institutions that provide students the most academic prowess for the money (defined as net tuition after financial aid to the student).

When critics of UVa governance accuse the university of supporting excess administrative overhead, a common response is: if UVa is so bad, how come it’s the second-best value among all public institutions?

That’s a fair retort and well worth exploring. In this column, I suggest that UVa has restrained the highly visible and politically sensitive metric of undergraduate in-state tuition not through budgetary belt-tightening but by pursuing two strategies: (1) maintaining a favorable ratio of students who pay the full freight versus those who require financial assistance; and (2) increasing enrollment for out-of-state post-graduate students who pay higher tuition than in-state students. Much if not all of UVa’s perceived superior value comes from tuition-and-admissions engineering. Continue reading

Glen Allen Va’s “Do No Harm” Doing a Great Deal of Good

by James C. Sherlock

Do you assume that Virginia’s medical schools are strict meritocracies, taking only the most well prepared and accomplished applicants?

And that their efforts are then focused entirely on creating the most skilled physicians possible?

If so, you are mistaken.

The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), written by the American Medical Association (AMA), a proudly progressive organization, measures everything they know to measure.

The AMA knows MCAT is by far the best predictor of success in medical school and brags about it. The MCAT itself was redesigned in 2015 to include sections that required test-takers to have an understanding of the social and behavioral sciences.

The current MCAT sections breakdown is as follows:

  • Section 1 – Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems (BBLS);
  • Section 2 – Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems (CPBS);
  • Section 3 – Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior (PSBB);
  • Section 4 – Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (CARS).

Remember that women and minorities who take the MCAT are not so “disadvantaged” that they do not feel ready to apply to medical school.

The AMA hoped the change would produce more women and “underrepresented” (as opposed to Asian-American) minorities with high MCAT scores.

Fair enough.

Yet the rest of the woke medical leadership refuses to accept the results of AMA’s MCAT because that test still does not yield the “correct” candidates. Continue reading

DEI Has “Gone Off the Rails”

by James A. Bacon

Finally, we’re getting an open debate about “Diversity, Equity & Inclusion” in Virginia — not an honest debate, mind you, but a debate which, whether honest or not, is long overdue.

Last month, Virginia’s chief diversity officer Martin Brown proclaimed that DEI was “dead” at the Virginia Military Institute. Various parties, from Democratic legislators to Richmond Times-Dispatch columnist Michael Paul Williams, lambasted Brown.

“Make no mistake: Brown did not merely threaten to terminate equity, but the entirety of DEI. And Youngkin has his back in pushing for its destruction,” wrote Williams. “Somewhere, Jim Crow is smiling.”

Ah, I see. Brown, an African-American, is bent upon dragging Virginia back to the era of lynch mobs, eugenics, and state-enforced racial segregation. With insights like that, no wonder Williams won a Pulitzer Prize for commentary.

Since changing the name of the state office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion to the office of Diversity, Opportunity & Inclusion, Youngkin has largely refrained from making public pronouncements on the subject. But earlier this week, in response to a question about Brown’s statement, Youngkin said that, while DEI was admirable five or ten years ago, it has since “gone off the rails.”

Continue reading

Update: Dissident VMI Alumni Lawsuit

by James A. Bacon

Last week Bacon’s Rebellion published a column by Bob Morris which mentioned a lawsuit that dissident Virginia Military Institute alumni had filed against the VMI Alumni Association. The petition demanded records that would allow dissident alumni access to 20,0000+ alumni emails to communicate with other alumni ahead of the association’s annual meeting.

The lawsuit argued that all “members” of a Virginia nonstock corporation — in this case, all VMI alumni — were allowed access to all corporate records, including the email addresses. That lawsuit was heard in Rockbridge County Circuit Court a week ago Thursday. The bottom line: dissidents got the postal mailing addresses but not the email addresses, and the alumni association’s annual meeting was not postponed.

Says Morris, who was not a party in the case but who collaborates with the plaintiffs: “Not a complete victory, but not a complete loss.” Continue reading

ODU Graduation: Snotty Brats In Caps and Gowns

by Kerry Dougherty

Last month we wrote about snotty brats at George Mason University — a state-supported school — who’d rather stick their fingers in their ears than spend 10 minutes listening to someone who doesn’t share their radical agenda.

That was Gov. Glenn Youngkin who they found so objectionable, incidentally.

Depending on what news source you rely upon, either “about 30” or “many” graduates at Old Dominion’s commencement exercises this weekend were unaware that they, too, had attended a Virginia state institution. So they decided to turn their backs on the governor during his 10-minute commencement address.

Yes, I’m aware they have a First Amendment right to behave badly.

Just as I have a First Amendment right to call them rude brats.

In addition to the children acting out at graduation exercises, about 3,000 of them had earlier signed a petition demanding that the school rescind its invitation to the governor.

Memo to the triggered babies at ODU: your education was bankrolled by Virginia taxpayers. And a majority of those same people elected Glenn Youngkin precisely because he brought back common sense and parental rights to the commonwealth.

If you want to listen to a governor who supports biological boys competing in girls sports, someone who believes that very young school children need to see graphic novels showing gay oral sex IN SCHOOL, who thinks schools should allow children to change their names, pronouns and gender without their parents being notified, may I suggest you look into one of California, Washington or Oregon’s state universities?

Their governors may just be loony enough for you.

Think of how conservative grads must feel each spring as lefties fan out across the nation giving graduation speeches full of Marxist drivel.

Odd, you don’t read much about those students developing a case of the vapors or demanding that lefties be gagged or banned from campus.

Perhaps they’re the ones who really do believe in free speech.

Republished with permission from Kerry: Unemployed and Unedited.