Tag Archives: University of Virginia

UVa Board Ponders Tuition Increase

After freezing tuition (but not room, board or fees) this academic year, the University of Virginia Board of Visitors is considering raising tuition and fees between 3.5% and 4.9% for the 2022-23 academic year and the year after that, reports The Daily Progress.

The Board had considered a 3.1% boost in tuition last year, but deferred the rate increase out of concern that the COVID pandemic had created financial hardship for many students. Meanwhile, in the past year there has been a spike in inflation-driven operating costs such as utilities and faculty/staff salaries.

Offsetting inflation, UVa saw a 49% return on its investment portfolio last year, boosting the size of its endowment to $14.5 billion. It might be difficult justifying a significant tuition hike after adding $4 billion to $5 billion to its endowment.

Between tuition, fees, room and board, the estimated cost for an in-state undergraduate student to attend UVa this year is about $34,560. The cost is about $70,000 for out-of-state students.


Does Jim Ryan Value Jefferson’s Legacy?

by Walter Smith

University of Virginia President Jim Ryan has stated that, as long as he holds office, the Thomas Jefferson statue in front of the Rotunda will remain in place. UVa’s founder, he says, will not be de-memorialized.

Talk is cheap. When given a golden opportunity to publicize Jefferson’s contribution to religious freedom — the 2019 publication of “Liberty in the Things of God: The Christian Origins of Religious Freedom” — Ryan took a pass. Neither he nor the administration’s propaganda organ, UVA Today (AKA UVA Pravda), have made mention of this important scholarship by Robert Louis Wilken, a UVa professor of the history of Christianity. Continue reading

Was UVa’s Vax Mandate Justified? We’ll Never Know.

New COVID cases among faculty, staff, students and contract employees. Source: University of Virginia COVID tracker

by James A. Bacon

This academic year the University of Virginia mandated that all students get vaccinated. With few exceptions, all have done so, as have most of the university’s 30,000 faculty, staff and employees. According to the Daily Progress, only 173 are estimated to be out of compliance. They have until January 4 to get their shots. So, how is the University of Virginia’s COVID-fighting regime working out? Have the mandates made a difference?

One way to tell is by comparing the incidence of new COVID cases reported during this fall’s mini-surge with the mini-surge that occurred a year ago, when pre-vaccination measures such as remote learning, quarantining and mandated mask wearing were in place. As can be seen in the graph above, this year’s mini-surge was smaller than last year’s. Last year’s fall surge peaked at 29.6 new cases per day (seven-day running average) compared to 23,3 new cases per day. That clearly looks like an improvement. (Both were dwarfed by the February super-surge, which peaked at 112.6 new cases per day, but I’m trying to compare periods with like conditions.)

In that limited sense, the UVa experiment can be viewed as a success. But these statistics don’t tell the whole story, nor do they answer a question not susceptible to measurement: was the marginal gain worth the trammeling of individual liberties? Continue reading

Jefferson Defended

by James A. Bacon

I was proud of the University of Virginia last night.

The Young Americans for Freedom organized an event, “Defending Thomas Jefferson,” featuring National Review editor Rich Lowry and Texas Congressman Chip Roy, both UVa alumni. Organizers believe it was the first time that conservative speakers from outside the university had been invited since former Senator Rick Santorum had appeared four or five years ago. (It’s been so long that memories were hazy about the details).

Many posts on social media had been critical, and there were rumblings that a protest might be organized. But university police posted outside the Newcomb Hall lecture room provided security, and nothing remotely unpleasant occurred.

More than 150 people attended the event, which easily met expectations. What I found most encouraging was the healthy contingent of Black students who came to hear what the defenders of the university’s founder might say. One could deduce that many were not sympathetic to the views of the speakers because they sat silently through the applause lines. But they listened respectfully and, when the time came for questions, a number asked questions that were pointed but polite. (I am pleased to note that one Black student, who spoke with an African accent, said that she found Jefferson inspiring.)

The event was exactly what a great university should be doing — exposing students to different perspectives and facilitating the civil exchange of views. I am delighted that the Jefferson Council played a role in helping make it happen.

(View the Young America’s Foundation livestream on YouTube here.)

Continue reading

Hey, Show Some Respect!

by Walter Smith

There is a new conservative meme loose in the land. It is profane and disrespectful, and it does nothing to elevate the civic discourse. But it gets the point across. It seems that crowds in football stadiums around the country have taken to chanting, “F— Joe Biden!” Hilariously, one sports commentator mistook the vulgarity as, “Let’s go Brandon!” Now the phrase “Let’s go Brandon” has taken on a life of its own.

At a recent football game at Virginia Tech’s Lane Stadium, students broke out in just such a chant, and, apparently, the Tech administration did not approve. According to WJHL News, following displays of “selfish, inappropriate and embarrassing student behavior” that “falls short of Virginia Tech standards,” the administration restricted student attendance to season ticket holders and student lottery winners. As examples of objectionable behavior, the university mentioned students entering the game illegally or violating line protocols. The communique did not mention the profane mantra, but the Media Research Center blog, reading between the lines, viewed the crackdown as a rebuke of the anti-Biden chants.

I don’t know the truth of the matter, but based upon memories of my own sordid behavior as a University of Virginia undergraduate, I offer some advice to the Tech students. Continue reading

This Is It! Act Now to Save the UVa 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. Continue reading

Charlottesville a Pioneer of Woke Architecture

The Darden School architecture was an homage to Thomas Jefferson’s academical village. Photo credit: UVA Today

A dustup over classical architecture at the University of Virginia prefigured the controversy over Donald Trump’s architecture executive order.

by Catesby Leigh

When Donald Trump ordered a traditionally oriented reform of federal architectural patronage in his final days as president, its life expectancy was exceedingly short. Sure enough, his successor soon revoked the order and subsequently defenestrated most of the members Trump appointed to a little-known but noteworthy design review board. To understand the affair, it’s worth reviewing what transpired in Charlottesville after the turn of the millennium, when the architecture wars heated up at the University of Virginia. On one side was the university’s architecture faculty, reflecting the arcane sensibilities of fashionable latter-day designers and academics and their fellow travelers in the legacy media. On the other side was common sense.

In 1996, UVA completed a new business school campus designed by Robert A. M. Stern, who emulated Thomas Jefferson’s beloved “academical village”—the original ensemble of Rotunda, pavilions, and connecting colonnades girding a long, terraced greensward known as the Lawn. Jefferson famously modeled his crowning Rotunda on Rome’s Pantheon. Stern’s ensemble, which shares UVA’s traditional palette of red brick with details in white wood and limestone, has been a hit with students. Other new buildings adhered to the architectural tradition that Jefferson inaugurated: a handsome pavilion designed by veteran classicist Allan Greenberg for a public-policy institute and a building by Washington’s Hartman-Cox Architects adjacent to the main university library that houses special collections.

So when it came time, in 2005, for the university’s Board of Visitors to consider alternative architectural approaches for a $105 million arts and sciences complex just south of Jefferson’s Lawn, more than half the faculty of the university’s monolithically modernist architecture school tried to head it off at the pass by denouncing traditionally oriented architectural patronage, in a broadside published in the student newspaper, as a matter of converting the university campus into “a theme park of nostalgia” — a Jeffersonian Disneyland. Continue reading

With a $14.5 Billion Endowment, Are UVa Leaders Accountable to Anyone But Themselves?

This graph shows how UVIMCO divvies up its $14.5 billion endowment from an investment perspective.

by James A. Bacon

The University of Virginia endowment racked up a breathtaking 49% investment return in the year ending June 30, 2021, bringing the total value of the university’s investments to $14.5 billion, reports the University of Virginia Investment Management Company (UVIMCO) in its 2020-21 annual report.

I’m not sure that’s a good thing.

On the one hand, powerful investment returns supports initiatives such as the recently announced allocation of $50 million dollars for merit-based scholarships and aid to needy undergraduate students. On the other hand, such spectacular financial performance — almost $5 billion in a single year — makes the university leadership less accountable to tuition-paying students and parents, to the Commonwealth of Virginia which funds millions in state support, and to alumni whose individual donations are paltry by comparison.

Come to think of it, I’m even agnostic on whether the $50 million in new scholarship money is a good thing or not. Continue reading

How Not to Create a Diverse, Welcoming Workplace

Michelle Vermillion

by James A. Bacon

Michelle Vermillion was raised an old-fashioned liberal. She grew up thinking that people should be treated as individuals, judged, as Martin Luther King once dreamed, by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. She supports civil rights causes and endorses diversity in the workplace. Getting to know people of different backgrounds at work, she believes, is key for America to move beyond its racist past. When you get to know your coworkers as fellow humans, she says, you learn they want basically the same things you do.

But as a library staffer working at the University of Virginia Library, Vermillion felt increasingly increasingly ill at ease in the past few years. Rather than seeing a person’s race as an incidental part of his or her identity, the UVa Library administration began putting racial identity front and center. Town hall meetings and training programs made race a person’s defining characteristic.

“I’m not the one who changed,” Vermillion says. UVa changed. The traumatizing 2017 Unite the Right Rally, in which white supremacists clashed with counter-protestors, precipitated a bout of introspection about the role of slavery and segregation in the institution’s past. The Ryan administration doubled down on a commitment to recruit more Black students and faculty with its “Inclusive Excellence” program. The end result: library administrators today are fixated on race, and they are dedicated to imposing their ideological framework derived from Critical Race Theory upon library staff.

There is no escaping the obsession with race, she says. Many employees have reservations, but, for all the administration’s happy talk about engaging in a “dialogue,” they are afraid to speak out.

By this summer, Vermillion couldn’t take it anymore. She tried introducing different perspectives and sparking a conversation. The administration shut her down. Submitting her resignation, she worked her last day at the library Sept. 3. Continue reading

UVa Petri Dish Update

by James A. Bacon

About a month ago I suggested that the University of Virginia would make an interesting real-world experiment in the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccination mandates during the Delta Variant phase of the epidemic. The Ryan administration required vaccinations for all students, allowing only a handful of medical and religious exceptions. Vaccinations were “strongly encouraged” for faculty and staff. Students who failed to comply were “unenrolled.” As of late August, 97% of students had gotten the jab, as did 92% of teaching and research faculty.

So, how are things working out?

Surprisingly, according to figures found on UVa’s COVID dashboard, confirmed cases reported during the first 15 days of September this year ran higher than during the same period last year — 306 cases compared to 232. Since the 15th, it appears that the incidence of new cases has tailed off somewhat in comparison to last year, when cases continued to rise. It is not clear, though, if the apparent decline represents an actual slowdown in the spread of the COVID-19 virus over the past several days or the difference between partial numbers due to reporting delays this year compared to complete numbers last year. Continue reading

Intellectual Enslavement at UVa

UVa memorial to enslaved laborers

by Jock Yellott

“This year, members of the Class of 2025 are required to attend a historical tour and debrief discussion centered around the history of enslaved
laborers at the University.”
— Sydney Hertzog, Cavalier Daily, Sept. 22, 2021.

Why does this rankle? The University of Virginia, after all, has many mandates:

• Social Sciences – 6 credits from two different departments
• Humanities – 6 credits from two different categories
• Historical Studies – one 3 or more credit course
• Non-western Perspectives – one 3 or more credit course
• Natural Science and Mathematics – 12 credits from two different

Why shouldn’t 1st years also be forced to “learn about the University’s
history of white supremacy and enslavement that has been suppressed for
many years”?

If any students objected, they were smart enough not to say so. To the contrary, according to the Cavalier Daily. Students “really enjoyed going on the tour because it has given them context of where they go to school.”

This is not Woke faculty indoctrination, or at least not directly. Says the Cavalier Daily: “This program was built purely by students.”

Why should it bother us? Continue reading

Flag Vandalism at UVa a False Alarm, Ryan Says

by James A. Bacon

A few days ago I reported an alleged act of vandalism against 2,977 tiny American flags planted in the ground as part of a 9/11 commemoration at the University of Virginia. The evening after the service, which was sponsored by the conservative Young Americans for Freedom and attended by President Jim Ryan, it was discovered that hundreds of the flags had been knocked over. A preliminary review of surveillance tapes suggested that unidentified individuals had flipped over a table with a banner.

A more in-depth review by UVA police now says that wind might have blown over the flags and that the person in the video might have been trying to set the table right.

The incident had drawn considerable attention at UVa. Two days ago Ryan updated the Board of Visitors about the incident. I republish it here; Continue reading

A Small Victory for Pluralism at UVa

UVA President Jim Ryan (left) poses with members of the Young Americans for Freedom at the 9/11 commemoration ceremony.

by James A. Bacon

I’m beginning to have a smidgeon of sympathy for University of Virginia President Jim Ryan.

On the 20th anniversary of 9/11, Ryan attended an event sponsored by the Virginia branch of the Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) to commemorate the lives lost in the terrorist attacks. YAF is an avowedly conservative group, and the keynote speaker, retired Col. Dan Moy, is a UVa lecturer but also chairman of the Republican Party of Charlottesville. Nevertheless, the ceremony, which featured 2,977 miniature flags in the grounds, one for each American live lost — was not overtly partisan. Unless you happen to think that remembering lives lost to terrorism is itself partisan.

Ryan tweeted his appreciation to YAF. “Many thanks to YAF @ UVA for organizing this morning’s moving event commemorating the lives lost on September 11th,” he wrote.

The tweet immediately generated blowback. As the Cavalier Daily student newspaper reports, “students and other social media users” critiqued Ryan’s choice to thank YAF. On Instagram, his post generated 52 comments, most condemning the recognition of YAF. On Twitter, Ryan’s post received mostly negative 27 replies. Continue reading

UVa, COVID, and Jim Ryan’s $200,000 Bonus

Source: University of Virginia COVID Tracker

by James A. Bacon

Like many other University of Virginia alumni, I was taken aback to hear that the Board of Visitors had granted President Jim Ryan a $200,000 bonus for the great job UVa had done in addressing the COVID-19 epidemic.

Rector Whittington Clement put it this way: “When the situation this year became clearer and we had a highly successful handling of COVID-19, we think the University did as well as, if not better, than any institution of higher learning in making the adjustments necessary to COVID-19, we thought that it was appropriate to give him a bonus.”

I don’t want to prejudge whether Team Ryan has done a great job of addressing COVID-19 or not. To be sure, UVa has resumed in-person learning, but it also has instituted a draconian lockdown, including mandated vaccination for students, the unenrollment of those who did not comply, mask wearing required both indoors and outdoors, and mandated isolation and quarantine for those who test positive and/or been exposed. UVa is a laboratory testbed for the individual-liberties-be-damned approach to public health that some would like to see for the entire country. Continue reading

Is Anyone In Charge Over There?

The new rules for occupying a prestigious room on the University of Virginia’s Lawn allow students to post comments and materials on two message boards affixed to each door. An addendum to the “Terms and Conditions for Lawn and Range Residents, Housing and Residence Life” states:

“Any materials placed on the message boards must fit within the four corners of each message board and cannot extend beyond the outer edges of any such board.”

The addendum also provides this context: Continue reading