Tag Archives: University of Virginia

Update: UVa Freezes Undergraduate Rates One Year

Jim Ryan

by James A. Bacon

The University of Virginia is freezing undergraduate tuition in the next school year, but increases in student fees, room, and board will total about $392, or about a 1.1% increase in the cost of attendance in the College of Arts & Sciences.

The board had considered boosting tuition as much as 3.1% this year, based on the national cost of providing a college education plus 1%, reports the Daily Progress. While the Board held steady on tuition this year, UVa President Jim Ryan warned, that the respite likely would last only one year.

“If there were ever a year to raise undergraduate tuition, it would be this year, given the large and unexpected costs and the loss of revenues because of COVID,” Ryan said. “At the same time, if there was ever a year to not raise undergraduate tuition, it would also be this year, given the pandemic and the financial hardship facing a lot of our students and their families.” Continue reading

Hate, Hostility and Harassment at UVa

Nick Cabrera tweeted this photo of himself posing maskless with Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Green at the Conservative Political Action Conference. COVID scolds wanted to impeach him from student council.

by James A. Bacon

Last fall Nickolaus “Nick” Cabrera ran for election as a first-year representative to student council at the University of Virginia. His platform was anodyne — showing unity in confronting COVID-19, getting Class of 2024 t-shirts delivered, that sort of thing. He didn’t run on an ideological or partisan political platform, but he didn’t hide anything either. It wasn’t until he was actually elected to a spot on Student Council that people took notice. Horrors! He supported Donald Trump for president! The word went out on the social media tom-toms. Before long, he was a campus villain.

It wouldn’t be long before Cabrera received his baptism under fire as the sole conservative representative in a student council populated entirely by representatives on the blue end of the political spectrum.

UVa erupted in a furor when minority and woke-white students took umbrage at the use of language by a Commerce School professor. Student Council passed a resolution demanding implementation of a “strike” system — three strikes and you’re out — to hold professors accountable for the use of words deemed offensive. Cabrera was the only student to speak against a measure he saw as a threat to free speech and due process. His stand on principle earned him the animosity of other council members, who said in essence he had no standing as a white person to speak on the matter. (I have described that encounter in detail here.) Continue reading

The Bureaucratic Banality of Academic Oppression

by James A. Bacon

Two-and-a-half years ago, Kieran Ravi Bhattacharya, a medical school student at the University of Virginia, attended a session on “microaggressions” in which psychology professor Beverly Colwell Adams gave a presentation about her research. In what he thought to be a collegial manner, Bhattacharya challenged her analysis.

The challenge was not well received. Indeed, other participants in the session deemed his questions disrespectful. There followed a sequence of events in which Bhattacharya was investigated by the Academic Standards and Achievement Committee for unprofessional behavior, was told to submit to psychological evaluation, was suspended, was branded as a threat to the university community, was banned from the university grounds, and ultimately was expelled.

Bhattacharya has detailed his side of the story in a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in Charlottesville against the University of Virginia and various university officials. The defendants filed for a motion to dismiss, but Judge Norman K. Moon ruled that the case should proceed. I base the account that follows upon the details contained in Moon’s ruling.

That ruling presents only one side of the story, Bhattacharya’s, and has to be considered in that light. But Bhattacharya version is well documented with emails and audio recordings. If substantially correct, the implications for freedom of thought and expression at the University of Virginia are extremely troubling. The lawsuit opens a window into the internal workings of Virginia’s flagship university. Free thought and expression are stifled not only by the widely recognized phenomena of doctrinaire faculty and Twitter Outrage Mobs, but by administrators acting through the university’s clunky bureaucratic machinery. Continue reading

The Real King Ralph (Sampson, not Northam) Saves the White Spot!

Robert Henry at the counter of The White Spot Photo credit: https://www.wspot.net/wspot/#

by Don Rippert

Double Gus, all the way. Students who attended The University of Virginia going all the way back to 1953 are likely to be familiar with the White Spot “restaurant.” The term “restaurant” is in quotes because The Spot, as it is affectionately known, is a hole in the wall that originally had 11 stools all in a row along a counter directly across from the stovetop. At some point The Spot expanded to include the adjacent space where a few simple tables sit. As for the food… The Spot never served alcohol but still managed to attract lines of UVA students out the door waiting for a stool. Enough said. The hallmark dish was the Gus burger. The Gusburger was a mainstay of The Spot going back at least to 1977 (and probably much further). It was a cheeseburger or double cheeseburger with a fried egg on top. And this was long before the trend of putting eggs on burgers became a common fad.

Everybody wondered what would become of the beloved Spot given the Coronavirus shutdowns. A cramped space like The White Spot was not expected to fare well. But suddenly … Good news! An icon has come to save an icon. UVa and NBA basketball legend Ralph Sampson has teamed with businessman Bert Ellis to buy The White Spot. Best of all, they insist that maintaining the classic look, feel and menu of The Spot is job #1. Continue reading

The UVa School of Education Provides Exclusive Analysis for State Early Childhood Education Policy

UVa Ed School

by James C. Sherlock

Sometimes thumbing through the state Budget Bill, HB1800 (Enrolled), one finds something other than what one is looking for.

I was examining the Education budget, and specifically the Department of Education, Central Office Operations, Item 137, Instructional Services (18100).

That is where the massive infusion of federal COVID education dollars are found. The instructional services budget increased from $32 million in FY 2021 (ends Jun 30, 2021) to almost $263 million in FY 2022. The increase is all federal dollars and all for Program Administration and Assistance for Instructional Services (18102).

Readers know I am a graduate of the University of Virginia, but sometimes that causes me some discomfort. This is one of those times. Continue reading

Would Someone Enroll the UVa Board in These Courses, Please?

Laura Goldblatt

by James A. Bacon

Like most higher-ed critics, Bacon’s Rebellion conducts analysis of Virginia’s higher-ed institutions from a politically conservative perspective. Colleges and universities have mostly gotten a pass from commentators on the left wing of the political spectrum because, I would suggest, colleges and universities are almost all leftist-dominated institutions. But there are occasional exceptions.

One of those is a course taught by University of Virginia assistant professor Laura Goldblatt this spring, “The Marketplace of Ideas? Following the Money at the University of Virginia.” Her course description starts with an excellent question: “Why does student tuition for four-year, US colleges keep rising (at rates above inflation)? And where do all those tuition dollars go?”

Goldblatt, who worked as an English teacher at a failing high school in the Mississippi Delta before coming to UVa, continues (unedited except for paragraph breaks):

Why do some students have to work and take out loans to attend the University of Virginia, when others don’t? What does “need-blind” admissions mean and does the University of Virginia meet full financial need for all students? How do they even calculate that? Continue reading

UVa’s Lawn Signage Controversy Flares Anew

by James A. Bacon

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), an organization dedicated to  defending freedom of expression and conscience on America’s college campuses, has sided with fourth-year student Hira Azher regarding her right to post political speech on the door of her room on the Lawn at the University of Virginia.

A new sign showed the grim reaper standing behind a hooded KKK figure and the Rotunda, along with a quote from Kwame Ture: “In order for non-violence to work your opponent must have a conscience,” and the words, “UVA HAS NONE,” and “BURN IT ALL DOWN.”

University leadership last week directed the Facilities Management Division to order Azher to take down the sign on the grounds that the phrase “burn it down” has the potential to provoke violence. “When free speech goes beyond mere advocacy of a particular point of view and directly promotes physical violence,” said the letter to Azher, “we can and will take action to restrict it.” Continue reading

Introducing The Jefferson Council Website

by James A. Bacon

A fabulous new website (edited by yours truly), The Jefferson Council, tracks governance and culture-war issues at the University of Virginia. Much of the content is recycled from Bacon’s Rebellion, but we’re hoping that The Jefferson Council will grow into a vibrant stand-alone forum for the exchange of views about UVa’s future that generates loads of its own content. Here follow the three most recent posts…

Show Us the Plan!

Parents Petition to the University of Virginia Administration

Dear UVA Administrators and Board of Visitors

We write to you today as a large, rapidly expanding coalition of UVA stakeholders including parents, students, and alumni who are increasingly concerned about the current living/learning conditions at the University of Virginia. Continue reading “Show Us the Plan!”

Continue reading

Higher-Ed’s Endless Mission Creep

Neetu Arnold

by James A. Bacon

Based on informal observation of Virginia’s public colleges and universities over many years, I have oft lamented “mission creep” as a factor pushing the cost of college attendance ever higher. But I never  explored the idea systematically. Fortunately, a new study has done that job for me.

In “Priced Out: What College Costs America,” Neetu Arnold, a research associate with the National Association of Scholars, explores the factors, many of which I have not seen identified before, responsible for the higher-ed affordability crisis. One important section of her study identifies the surge in non-instructional costs.

“Modern American colleges and universities no longer think education alone justifies their existence,” writes Arnold, who based her study on data from 50 leading U.S. universities, including the University of Virginia and George Mason University. “They increasingly divert their attention and their expenditures to non-instructional endeavors — and away from their core mission of instruction.” Continue reading

Sign Standards for UVa’s Lawn Upheld

No longer allowed

by James A. Bacon

No longer will it be permissible for residents of the University of Virginia’s rooms on the Law to post large signs on their doors proclaiming, “F— UVA,” as a Lawn resident did last semester. Under new policies issued by the University administration, Lawn residents will have to confine their profane proclamations to within the borders of two message boards, reports the Cavalier Daily.

In a collective statement to the student newspaper, several Law residents criticized the new rules as prejudicial against students of color. The restriction, said the statement, will result in “increased surveillance,” which in turn will “inherently harm and endanger the most marginalized and vulnerable students in this space.”

“This policy displays the extent to which the University is selective about who can exercise free speech and the content of that expression. Evidently, BIPOC students and allies cannot be critical of the University while simultaneously living on the Lawn.” Continue reading

Demanding Openness about UVa’s Cost Structure

by James A. Bacon

Last week the University of Virginia Board of Visitors held a workshop to discuss next year’s increase in tuition, fees, and other charges and to hear input from the public — mostly students begging the board for relief from the ever-escalating cost of attendance.

A PowerPoint presentation released at the meeting essentially made the case for hiking tuition again, although the exact percentage will depend upon the level of financial support provided by the Commonwealth. The estimated increase for undergraduate, in-state tuition will range between 0% and 3.1%. Additional fees are set at $114.

The presentation reflects the Ryan administration’s spin on the numbers. It’s the job of the Board of Visitors to probe deeper. In this post, I will first summarize the administration’s stats, and then I will provide some numbers that the board should consider as it ponders the tuition increases.

“Tuition is last resort,” states a slide expressing UVa’s tuition philosophy. “[We first] look to other revenues and savings.”

We’ll see about that. Continue reading

UVa Board Ponders 3.1% Hike in Tuition & Fees


by James A. Bacon

The University of Virginia Board of Visitors is considering raising in-state undergraduate tuition up to 3.1% next year and hiking student fees by $114. The increases potentially would add $554 to tuition and fees next year, bringing the total to $17,860, reports the Daily Progress. Including room, board, books and other expenses, the total cost of attendance would reach $34,600 for students not benefiting from financial aid. Out-of-state students would pay $70,200 all told.

Rector James B. Murray cited the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic. “2020 has been a tough year for everybody, for the students, parents and the administration. It’s been a financially troubling year and psychologically troubling year. We have lost a lot of revenue. We don’t have housing revenue, dining revenue, athletics, or student and public services. … The board is committed to keeping tuition increases at a minimum and using every other source of revenue whenever and where ever we can.”

Said Murray: “Tuition is always the last lever that we pull.”

Third-year student Madison Perry, one of two dozen students allowed to speak in the board’s first-ever open comment session, had a devastating come-back.

Continue reading

UVa Committee to Study Free Expression Issues

Leslie Kendrick

by James A. Bacon

The University of Virginia has created two new committees: one to articulate the university’s commitment to free expression and inquiry, and another to examine naming and memorials on the grounds (as the UVa campus is referred to).

“We are working to give voice to our commitment as an educational institution to the free and open exchange of ideas, and to grapple with the complexities of our University’s history and the names that we honor,” Ryan said in making the ann0uncement. “These committees will help us forge a path forward as we continue to address these issues as a community and as a nation.”

First Amendment expert Leslie Kendrick, vice dean of the School of Law, will chair the Committee on Free Expression and Free Inquiry. According to UVAToday, the group will craft a statement that “identifies the role that free expression and free inquiry play in UVA’s academic enterprise and how they shape engagement with the ideas of others.”

UVa officials did not explain what prompted the creation of the committee, but the university has been racked by a number of free speech/free expression controversies recently. Continue reading

Restructuring Higher Ed for Greater Produktivität

Pre-COVID, the UVa Kaffeestunde met every week. German speakers of all levels hung out to sprechen deutsch.

by James A. Bacon

Last month the University of Virginia Board of Visitors approved a recommendation to eliminate the M.A. and PhD programs in the Department of Germanic Languages & Literatures. While UVa students retained a healthy appetite for learning to read and speak in German, only a few showed an interest in plumbing the depths of German literature.

The scaling back of the German department, which offered advanced courses in such authors as Freud and Kafka last semester, was part of a larger restructuring of UVa’s graduate foreign-language program. The board also voted to eliminate the M.A. program in Italian and the B.A. in Comparative Literature.

Whether the rollbacks result in a reduction in the number of courses, staff or expenses is as yet unknown. The University is “still assessing” the impact of the cutbacks, says spokesman Brian Coy. “Because the University makes a practice of fully supporting doctoral students, we expect the termination of the PhD in German to result in some small savings, however other changes within the department have not been made.” Continue reading

Another Higher-Ed Apologist Calls for More State Funding

James Socas

by James A. Bacon

You’d think James Socas would know better. As an employee of the Blackstone Group, he invests in technology companies. He knows what it takes to run successful business enterprises. He has even served two terms on UVa’s alumni association board. But he’s willing to cut Virginia public universities plenty of slack when it comes to the way they run their enterprises.

In an op-ed he wrote for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Socas calls for greater state funding for Virginia’s public colleges and universities — with no strings attached and no calls for accountability. He should know better.

The op-ed makes some legitimate points. Higher-ed is an engine of economic growth. And the importance of higher education will only grow as the economy increasingly revolves around information technology, data science, machine learning and robotics. “Almost 50% of all employees,” he writes, “will need reskilling by 20205 as work becomes more knowledge-intensive and higher-order cognitive skills such as creativity, critical thinking and advanced problem-solving become more important.” Continue reading