Category Archives: Education (higher ed)

Your Alumni Association Dollars at Work

by James A. Bacon

Above is an ad that The Jefferson Council submitted to run in the University of Virginia Alumni Society publication, Virginia. Before I tell you the fate that befell this ad, please take a moment to read it, and then ask yourself: is there anything political about it? Is there anything contentious about it? Is there anything inaccurate about it?

Sure, you might disagree with the thrust of the ad. Maybe you think, as many people at UVa do, that Jefferson deserves to be remembered in history as a slave-holding rapist. But, really, do you find anything objectionable about the facts, the quotes or the tenor of the presentation?

Now, you might think that the association representing the alumni of the university that Jefferson founded might be willing to publish a paid ad defending his reputation. And you would be wrong. Continue reading

The Stakes are High in Reform of Higher Education

by James C. Sherlock

I exposed in detail yesterday the ironclad control of the University of Virginia by the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) bureaucracy at that school.

Maoist-like insistence on radical progressive ideological purity is overseen there by the Red Guards of DEI in every school in the university. To claim otherwise is to insult them and their publicly expressed cause.

The Washington Post yesterday ran a relatively balanced article on Florida’s plans to remake its state institutions of higher education to restore academic freedom and viewpoint diversity. It is The Washington Post — it led with the positions of the left — but got around to the positions of conservatives more quickly than usual.

DeSantis has said he wants to prevent the state’s colleges and universities … from developing “intellectually repressive environments.”

For a fully developed intellectually repressive environment he should see the University of Virginia.

In Florida and nationally, the screams and rending of garments from the left have been as predictable as the sunrise. Continue reading

A More Politically Diverse Board for VMI

by James A. Bacon

Governor Glenn Youngkin’s board-of-visitors appointments to the University of Virginia and the Virginia Community College System are bound to shake up the status quo, as Bacon’s Rebellion has documented in earlier posts today. His designation of four new members to the Virginia Military Institute Board of Visitors could generate controversy as well.

The outgoing VMI board is the one that presided when former Governor Ralph Northam evicted former Superintendent J.H. Binford Peay III, replaced him with the current Superintendent, Cedric Wins, stood silent (or expressed support) when The Washington Post and a Northam-appointed investigation maligned the military academy as systemically racist, and approved a series of measures to undo the alleged racism.

The big question is this: How hard will new board members fight to preserve what dissident alumni refer to as threats to core VMI institutions such as the Honor Code and the Rat Line? The answer to that question may hinge on whether the Wins administration is actually implementing policies hostile to free expression and bedrock values.

The appointees include: Continue reading

UVa’s Invasive, Ubiquitous DEI Program, Its President and the New Board of Visitors

UVa President James Ryan Courtesy of the University

by James C. Sherlock

As a public service and a primer for new UVa Board of Visitors members, I will offer here a brief summary of the extent and costs in dollars, time, distraction and suppression of debate by the University’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion program.

Put briefly, they are everywhere, overseeing everything at the University.

On that subject, Victor David Hanson has written:

At a time of impending recession, runaway inflation, and climbing interest rates, universities are charging students thousands of dollars in increased tuition and fees to subsidize an unproductive diversity, equity, and inclusion industry. And like all good commissariats, the DEI apparatchiks produce no research, do no teaching, and bully and repress those who do.

Their chief legacy is the millions of opportunistic mediocrities emerging from the shadows to mouth wokester shibboleths about climate change, diversity, equity, and inclusion, identity politics, and transgenderism, while damning the customs, traditions, history, and values of a prior society that alone is responsible for their very affluence and leisure.

A harsh critique, certainly. Perhaps it does not apply to the DEI program at the University of Virginia.

It is up to the Board of Visitors to examine whether Mr. Hanson’s description accurately describes that program and, if so, to make changes.

I will offer here a brief and assuredly incomplete accounting of that DEI bureaucracy and its hold on UVa’s President to let readers get an idea of both its scope and its penetration of the University. Continue reading

UVa Board Meetings Should Get a Lot More Interesting

Bert Ellis

by James A. Bacon

Governor Glenn Youngkin has announced his appointments to the boards of visitors of Virginia’s colleges and universities, at least one of which has the potential to be highly consequential — Bert Ellis, a serial entrepreneur and major donor, at the University of Virginia.

Ellis has been a prominent critic of UVa’s leftward drift under President Jim Ryan. He is president of The Jefferson Council, an alumni organization formed a year and a half ago to preserve free speech, promote intellectual diversity, protect the legacy of Thomas Jefferson, and preserve the dignity of the Jefferson-designed “academical village” centered on the Rotunda and Lawn. (Full disclosure: I am vice president-communications of The Jefferson Council.)

The current board has provided little pushback to Ryan’s policies. Rector Whitt Clement has worked behind the scenes to blunt the worst excesses, but he avoids confrontation. His personal style is to be a conciliator. He has achieved some success on free-speech issues, but has been powerless to halt more fundamental changes in university culture.

In an update to Jefferson Council members in December, Ellis noted approvingly that Governor Glenn Youngkin, Lt. Governor Winsome Sears and Attorney General Jason Miyares were are all 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.” Continue reading

Youngkin Appointees Can Expect the Queally Treatment

Paul Queally in happier days, 2018, when the announcement was made that UR would build the Queally Athletics Center. Photo credit: Richmond Times-Dispatch

by James A. Bacon

Any day now, Governor Glenn Youngkin will announce his appointments to the boards of Virginia’s public colleges and universities. He has used his bully pulpit to urge governing boards to suppress hikes in tuition and fees, and he has called upon administrators to preserve free speech and promote intellectual diversity. In private conversations, he has indicated that he will appoint like-minded individuals to support those priorities.

Few members of the Youngkin cohort, I expect, have any idea of what they’ll be up against. The culture of militant leftism is so deeply entrenched in higher education that they will face furious opposition if they dare advocate substantive changes.

As a cautionary tale, Youngkin appointees might consider the experience of Paul Queally, the head of the University of Richmond Board of Trustees, who will step down from his position Thursday at the conclusion of his term. The situation is not identical — UR is a private university run by a self-perpetuating fraternity; new trustees are nominated and elected by existing trustees — while Youngkin over the course of his term will be able to replace the entire board of every public university (just as former Governor Ralph Northam did before him). But many of the political dynamics unique to higher-ed will be similar. Continue reading

A Senseless Fight

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

Sometimes I shake my head in dismay at the Democrats in the General Assembly.  They sometimes seem so eager to score points against Governor Youngkin that they end up shooting themselves in the foot.

Current case in point is Budget Amendment No. 9 sent down by the Governor.  Rather than summarize it, I will set in out in full:

  1.  As part of the biennial six-year financial plan required in the provisions of 23.1-306, Code of Virginia, each public four-year institution of higher education, Richard Bland College, and the Virginia Community College System shall include in its six-year plan and amendments to its plan submitted to the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) an official commitment and set of policies and practices to support freedom of expression and inquiry, free speech, academic freedom, and diversity of thought.
  2. Each public four-year institution of higher education, Richard Bland College, and the Virginia Community College System shall also submit an annual report on freedom of expression and inquiry, free speech, academic freedom, and diversity of thought to the Secretary of Education, including related incidents and statistics from the prior academic year.

Continue reading

Hoos the Best Software Engineering School?

by James C. Sherlock

Sometimes we get nice surprises. Yesterday was one of those days.

A friend on the UVa Board of Visitors sent me a report by CodeSignal.

Founded in 2015, (CodeSignal is) the first company to develop an objective skills-based assessment platform that can be used as a standard for technical hiring.

The report presents that organization’s ranking of the 50 colleges and universities with the highest concentration of students who received a top score under  CodeSignal’s General Coding Framework, “the industry-standard assessment taken by more than 50% of graduating computer science students in the United States”.

It is meant for corporate recruiters and hiring managers.  Here is the list of the top 30 universities.

Ta da!

I am a UVa grad but, alas, in 1962 I did not major in software engineering.

Congratulations to the Hoos.

The New Racial Calculus in UVa Admissions

by Walter Smith and James A. Bacon

On March 20, 2022, The Cavalier Daily student newspaper trumpeted the fact that the University of Virginia set a record low acceptance rate, offering slots to only 9,534 applicants, or 19% of the nearly 51,000 total. Of particular note, 52% of the offers went to “students of color” — up from 41% the prior year.

Only a little more than half of students who get accepted to UVa wind up enrolling there, so it’s not known what the ultimate composition of the entering class will be. But it is possible that entering first-year students will comprise the first class in which a majority of students are comprised of racial/ethnic minorities.

That would be no accident. In 2020, UVa recruited a vice provost of admissions, Stephen Farmer, whose most heralded accomplishment at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill had been  setting records for recruiting first-generation students and students from underrepresented minorities. At the time, UVa’s Racial Equity Task Force had recently articulated the goal of building a student body that “reflects the racial and economic demographics of the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

An analysis of acceptance numbers, provided by the University of Virginia and summarized in the table above, shows that UVa admissions this year clearly favor African-Americans, in-state students, and legacy students. If you are an in-state African-American applicant whose parent is an alumnus, your odds of getting accepted are roughly four times that of an out-of-state White applicant with no family connections. Continue reading

Bacon Bits: School Meltdown Update

The latest news about our dysfunctional schools:

Another day, another beating. A 15-year-old boy at Freedom High School in Prince William County was hospitalized Friday after three other students punched and kicked him in the head after an argument in the hallway. His injuries were not considered life-threatening. Prince William police said the case resulted in an “informal action” for the boys after consultation with Juvenile Court Services. Future actions will be handled through the juvenile diversion process, reports the Woodbridge, Va., Patch.

Parents fighting back. With help from the Alliance Defending Freedom, a group of parents and teachers is suing the Harrisonburg City Public Schools over a requirement for teachers to use students’ preferred pronouns and to keep students’ gender preferences confidential from their families, reports The Republican Standard. Said ADF Senior Counsel Ryan Bangert: “Parents—not public schools or government officials—have the fundamental right to direct the upbringing, care, and education of their children. Teachers and staff cannot willfully hide kids’ mental health information from their parents, especially as some of the decisions children are making at school have potentially life-altering ramifications. As the clients we represent believe, a teacher’s role is to support, not supplant, the role of the parent.”

Just one question: Who was doing the touching? Back in March, conservative parental activist Ian Prior put the Loudoun County School Board of teachers “on notice” that unidentified teachers at a Loudoun elementary were being subjected repeatedly to “inappropriate touching” several times a day for several months, and no one in the administration had addressed their concerns. Last night, the two teachers involved spoke out publicly for the first time, claiming that the school system had “retaliated against them after they testified before a special grand jury. The teachers were asked not to return next year, according to an email blast from the Fight For Schools organization.

The VMI Alumni Association as Self-Perpetuating Oligarchy

By Larry Repress and Sal Vitale
Virginia Military Institute Class of 1961

NOTE: This OPEN Letter was originally Sent to Mr. Thom Brashears, VMI Alumni Association COO with a request it be provided to all VMI Alumni in advance of the Special Meeting of the Association scheduled for 11 June 2022. On June 6, 2022 Mr. Sam Stocks, President of the Association Board, refused to distribute this to alumni stating, in part: “There is nothing to be gained at this point by any further back and forth over the contents and many of the assertions made in your letter…. Your complaints have been numerous and have been widely spread. From my perspective, they, like other similar efforts, have been a grave disservice to the alumni body at large, the cadets and to the Institute… You have a right to make them by whatever alternative means are available to you.”

“Nous Accusons”
An Open Letter to the Membership of the VMI Alumni Association

According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, oligarchy is defined as: “a government in which a small group exercises control especially for corrupt and selfish purposes.” We invite the reader to keep this definition in mind when reading further.

History buffs among VMI alumni/ae may recall the infamous chapter in French history when its army brass and civil government, the so called Third Republic, collaborated to falsely accuse, frame and convict a Jewish army captain, Alfred Dreyfus, of treason. This conviction led to his imprisonment at the infamous Caribbean penal colony on Devil’s Island. The conviction was later shown to have been the product of rampant anti-Semitism in the French army, a sentiment widely shared in the broader French society. The vindication of Dreyfus was catalyzed by an open letter penned by the French author and journalist Emile Zola accusing the army of framing Dreyfus. Its effect was to eventually turn public sentiment against the government resulting in an investigation that led to Dreyfus’ exoneration by the Government that had convicted him. Zola’s letter, published in a prominent Parisian newspaper, opens with the declaration “J’accuse…. (I accuse)”

In the tradition of Zola, we accuse (“nous accusons)” the Board of Directors of the VMI Alumni Association of cynically depriving the membership of its right to meaningfully participate in the affairs of the Association. It succeeded in this effort by effectively disenfranchising the membership and working to rig elections to the Board of only those of its own selection. How was this effect achieved by such a small number of persons? It was astonishingly easy. Here’s how. Continue reading

Commonwealth Set for Major Broadband Expansion

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

One of the issues underlined by the pandemic was the need for all areas of the state to have access to broadband internet. Without access to broadband, kids (and adults) in rural areas cannot take advantage of courses offered online. To the extent that more people will be working remotely, rural areas need access to broadband in order for those people to move there. Broadband accessibility is necessary for almost all businesses and industries and rural areas will need to have such accessibility if they hope to convince private companies to bring new jobs to their areas.

Thanks to federal funding, the Commonwealth is well on its way to achieving universal availability. The source of most of that funding is the American Rescue Plan (ARP), enacted in early 2021 as part of the Biden administration’s efforts to offset the economic effects of the COVID pandemic. In July of last year, the Northam administration and the General Assembly announced an agreement to allocate $700 million of the state’s ARP funding to broadband expansion. Several months later, that amount grew by  $220 million as a result of an allocation from another section of the ARP. Finally, it is expected that Virginia will get $65 million for broadband expansion from the federal infrastructure bill passed last fall. Continue reading

Legislators Deal Huge Blow to Upwardly Mobile Poor Kids

Photo credit: Anna Julia Cooper School

by James A. Bacon

Anna Julia Cooper School was founded as a private, nonprofit middle school in 2009 in Richmond’s poverty-ridden East End. The first-year enrollment in the middle school was 29 students. The founders offered a proposition to students’ families: the school would charge no tuition, but parents had to be committed to the program, which made greater demands and set higher expectations than the city’s public schools.

“In the early days, we had to knock on doors and say, hey, we have a school here,” recalls Laura McGowan, director of development and communications. But it didn’t take long for parents to see the value. Anna Julia Cooper School added an elementary school, the student body has expanded to 176, and now there is a waiting list.

The school has widespread charitable support in the Richmond community, including from churches in the Episcopal diocese. But critical to its expansion, says McGowan, has been a state tax credit, the Education Improvement Scholarship Tax Credit (EISTC), which gives philanthropists a credit on their state taxes equivalent to 65% of their donation. For years the program has been capped at $25 million.

“We like to think that people are donating to the school because they believe in our cause, and the tax credit is an added bonus,” says McGowan. “They go, wow, I can give you more money.” Continue reading

Lessons in Education, Democracy and Western Civilization from a Great Man

by James C. Sherlock

I recommend that every reader view a one-hour teleconference discussion between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and higher education leaders from around the United States.

You will watch a great and remarkably insightful man, in the middle of leading his country’s war for survival, speak and answer questions about preserving higher education, democracy and Western civilization in Ukraine and the world. Continue reading

What Role Will “Equity” Play in UVa’s Pay Raises This Year?

by James A. Bacon

The College of Arts & Sciences at the University of Virginia will be using “equity” as a criterion in allocating pay raises in the coming year, according to a memo distributed by Interim Dean David L. Hill.

Hill has divided the 5% pool of funds available for pay raises into three portions. One portion, accounting for 20% of the 5%, will go to “standard promotion raises,” in which “equity” is one criterion among several. The second portion, accounting for 40%, makes no reference to equity; but a third portion, also accounting for 40%, allows department chairs and directors to “address additional merit and equity considerations in their departments and programs.”

The memo does not define what Hill means by “equity.” But the pay raises will be handed out in a context in which College employees are required to submit “diversity statements” in their annual reviews describing their commitment to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in teaching, research and service.

When Bacon’s Rebellion asked if pay raises would be tied to race, ethnicity, sex, or sexual orientation, John Carfagno, the College’s director of communications, denied that they would. Responded Carfagno:

The communication you reference outlines efforts by the Dean’s Office to evaluate potential pay inequities between faculty members who have similar roles, academic backgrounds, performance, and scholarly activities. These can arise due to many factors, including the timing and mode of one person’s hiring relative to another. These decisions are made independent of the traits you referenced in your email to Dean Hill.

Continue reading