The School Soon to be Formerly Known as Curry

Jabez Lamar Monroe Curry, 1901 – cancelled

by James C. Sherlock
University of Virginia
College of Arts and Sciences 1966

Robert Pianta is Dean of the Curry School of Education and Human Development at the University of Virginia.  He has a great CV.

Dean Pianta on March 20, 2020 sent a lengthy letter to the University of Virginia Committee on Names (UVACON) – (no comment).  

That letter provided an executive summary of a monumental effort by lists of “stakeholders” on the Ad Hoc Committee on Naming (also no comment), he convened to study the characters of Jabez Lamar Monroe Curry, after whom the school is named, and William Henry Ruffner, the namesake of the Curry School’s Ruffner Hall.  

To satisfy the curiosity of readers on the edge of their seats, the Dean’s letter preliminarily cancelled Mr. Curry and Mr. Ruffner.

The second paragraph of Dean Pianta’s letter began:

“For the past two years, the faculty, students, alumni, Foundation Board, and other stakeholders of the school engaged in education and reflection related to Curry and Ruffner.”

That is possibly why Dean Pianta’s school in addition to being the School of Education and Human Development (Olympic-class pomposity in a naming convention even considering the source) is not also the School of Management.

A compassionate man, Dean Pianta did not include “Appendices referenced in this document (that) include: (A) Process Details and Further Basis for Recommendations; (B) Materials Resulting from Diligence Process; and (C) Stakeholder Reflections. He wrote that in Appendix A, he provided “greater detail related to the basis for my recommendations, which I outline below in this (11-page) summary.”  Thank you sir for a small kindness.

Curry and Ruffner

While at Harvard Law, J. L. M. Curry was inspired by the lectures of Horace Mann and became an advocate of free universal education. 

Several paragraphs in Dean Pianta’s summary were devoted to Curry’s accomplishments including: 

“He inspired legislatures to establish normal schools in twelve Southern states; create more and better rural schools, as well as elementary schools in a number of major cities. He made over 50 addresses to Southern legislatures promoting public education for both white and black children. In one year alone, he traveled over 17,000 miles in the South promoting public education. As Thomas D. Clark and Albert D. Kirwan, two 20th century historians stated ‘Scarcely a major educational advance was to be made in the South between 1881 and 1902 that was not influenced in some way by J.L.M. Curry; in fact his name became synonymous with public education.’”

Mr. Ruffner, in addition to being “the designer and first superintendent of Virginia’s public school system and later served as principal of the State Female Normal School (later Longwood University). Born in Lexington and a graduate of Washington College (later Washington and Lee University), he spent the years before the American Civil War (1861–1865) as a Presbyterian minister and farmer in Rockingham County.” (Wiki)   

Mr. Ruffner’s father was in 1847 forced to resign from President of Washington (and later Lee) University for advocating emancipation of the slaves.  

All good to know, and I very belatedly thank those two gentlemen for their good works.  

However, Mr. Curry’s biography includes (Wiki):

“He served in the Mexican–American War; in the Alabama State Legislature in 1847, 1853, and 1855; as a Democrat in the United States House of Representatives in 1857–1861; and in the Provisional Congress of the Confederate States. As a lieutenant-colonel in the Confederate Army, he was a staff aide to General Joseph E. Johnston and General Joseph Wheeler was also an officer in the Confederate Army.”  

Mr. Ruffner was a slaveholder who “hoped that gradual emancipation and colonization could bring about an end to slavery and diffuse the country’s tension over the issue”.

So Mr. Curry was an officer in the Confederate army and Mr. Ruffner was a slaveholder.  Done.

The Management Part

Dr. Pianta could have saved two years, thousands of hours of work and trees and who knows how much money by checking on Wikipedia and leading with that information two years prior in a very short letter to the UVACON.  

I don’t care if the two names are removed. I really don’t. Slavery was an abomination.  

But was it impossible to do it without expending what appear to be millions of dollars of employee time and years of “education and reflection” and, just perhaps, without making our University look ridiculous?  

Actually, as an alumnus of the University and a (very) minor donor, I would like to know how much money was spent. More expense is clearly to come when the actual UVACON pursues truth and difficult decisions plowing through the massive input from Dean Pianta’s Ad Hoc UVACON.

Thanks for the memories, though, Dean.  And thanks for holding on to the Appendices.

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44 responses to “The School Soon to be Formerly Known as Curry

  1. “He inspired legislatures to establish normal schools in twelve Southern states; create more and better rural schools, as well as elementary schools in a number of major cities. He made over 50 addresses to Southern legislatures promoting public education for both white and black children. In one year alone, he traveled over 17,000 miles in the South promoting public education. As Thomas D. Clark and Albert D. Kirwan, two 20th century historians stated ‘Scarcely a major educational advance was to be made in the South between 1881 and 1902 that was not influenced in some way by J.L.M. Curry; in fact his name became synonymous with public education.’”

    A truly horrible man. Not only should UVA remove any/all vestiges of his existence from their hallowed Grounds, but his corpse should be exhumed by the good and moral citizens of Virginia so that his remains may be tarred and feathered…

  2. I now know more about both men than I did before. I now hold them in higher esteem. Thank you, Cancel Culture. (There was a Ruffner Middle in the Roanoke Valley and I had no idea who it was named for….). Wow, two years of committee work to learn what everybody who cared already knew.

  3. Baconator with extra cheese

    Is UVA open to the new policy of 3.5 GPA and then a lottery to get in? How about W&M… isn’t their meritocracy acceptance policy racist as well?
    Might be a great question for Secretary Woke!

  4. I want all alumni and donors and stadium luxury suite owners to have each and every one of their social media accounts examined and family trees documented to insure not a single dollar is bestowed upon higher education establishments from people of questionable character and background….remember NoKo imprisons citizens for ‘Wrong class background’ digressions…. we also must insure purity of heart and background. To hell with MLK’s dream!

    Actually maybe this must be undertaken prior to admission…..

  5. It seems you are in to something. Rural, diverse expanded opportunities are always a good idea.

  6. All men’s souls shall be weighed.

    The concept of scales runs through all of mythology and religion. There were Zeus’ golden scales with which Achilles’ soul was compared to Hector’s. Abraham’s angel (Michael?) who determined the fates of the dead with his scales. I’m certain that were I to review the Eastern religions, I could find such use of scales there too. Maybe Shinto?

    In modern philosophy, well, Ashcroft had to allow for a sleeve through which to pass Lady Justice’s arm with scales in hand. We weigh guilt and innocence.

    We are only doing what we’ve done for millennia. We’re interring the good with the bones.

    Oh well.

  7. What moral midgets these people at UVa. are.

    • Reed, that is an overly broad statement. There are of course some outstanding people there.

      But at least the Ed School, the English Department, the ethnic studies Departments and the History Department have been taken over by dogma-driven zealots. Legacy of the sixties.

      Of all of those, the Ed school is easily the most dangerous, as we have seen in all of the expose’s here on the destruction of the public schools in Virginia. “Curry” has been the seedbed of that revolution.

      You will never see a woke Educational Equity panel in Virginia without a Curry professor as out front leader or as an eminence grise.

      Curry is the belly of the beast. I will get back to that crowd in later posts.

      • So why is it overly broad? Details please.

        • Because there are several thousand academics at Virginia and I only know a handful. I’ve studied the courses, the required readings, the dissertations and the writings of the faculty at Curry. Not so any other school there.

          • Reed Fawell 3rd

            Well, unlike you, I know more than a handful. Precious few are standing up against UVA’s assault on education, an assault that has been going on in most elite Universities in America for five decades, one that has now reached crisis proportions. America’s entire system of education (indeed history itself, and all the arts and sciences), are now under the gravest of threats in America. Until America’s professors stand up and be counted before it is too late in this time of crisis, they are moral midgets by my accounting. So far, however, precious few have mustered the courage of 90 year old UVA Professor Emeritus E. B. Hirsch. Most of the rest remain silent and apparently cowed instead.

            But moral courage is being shown by others in Academia, and strong platforms are now available for those with the moral courage to stand up and be counted in this time of crisis in American education. The National Association of Scholars is one such organization among several. America, and its students, critically need professors of courage to stand up right now for America’s students, and their future as educated competent citizens.

      • “You will never see a woke Educational Equity panel in Virginia without a Curry professor as out front leader or as an eminence grise.”

        Something along the lines of: “And now, allow me to introduce the chairhuman of the ‘Distinguished Inter-agency Partnership of Schools for Humanity and Integrity in Teaching’, the Esteemed Professor I.M. Woke, of the ‘School of Education and Human Development formerly named Curry’ at the University of the Commonwealth formerly known as Virginia.” ?

        I love creating acronyms…

  8. James Wyatt Whitehead V

    Curry was a key figure in the evolution of education in Virginia. After 1870 most of Virginia’s schools looked like this:

  9. James Wyatt Whitehead V

    Thanks to Curry the Southern Association of Secondary Schools and Colleges was formed to hold institutions to high standards. By the early 20th century many schools in Virginia began to look like this thanks to Curry:

    • “Thanks to Curry the Southern Association of Secondary Schools and Colleges was formed to hold institutions to high standards.”

      Now look at what the modern day Moral Midgets in America’s higher education establishment have done to the Southern Association of Secondary Schools and Colleges as it relates to colleges. See my 2012 Bacon’s Rebellion post on that subject here:

      Unfortunately, now we need to investigate UVA as well, given that under Teresa Sullivan and now James Ryan, UVA itself has caught the same disease that destroyed and rendered dysfunctional today’s Southern Association of Colleges and Universities. Now too schools of education such as the one at the University of Virginia are on their way to destroying America’s secondary education system, particularly our public K-12 schools in Virginia, and destroying our children’s education there at a blistering pace, undermining entire generations of young Americans, and the American nation itself.

  10. James Wyatt Whitehead V

    One of my top former students is studying in the former Curry School of Education, a name brand that once had national recognition. She is most frustrated with the liberal nature of the program and the student teaching is all virtual for her this. That will be a worthless experience and I hope Victoria gets a refund or discount of some kind.

    • I wish her well. Not sure Curry refunds are in the picture. The Dean has to pay for his million dollar panels. If he’d convene one to go out and teach kids how to multiply and both kids and illiterate adults how to read, I’d contribute.

    • If one is in the business of knowing the reputation of the school then one will likely be aware of its university. How many in the field of education, who would know to be impressed by the Curry School would not also know that it is a school at UVa?

      Your student thus has two options. She can identify as an education graduate of the university only, or with the new school name and add “formerly called the Curry School” for the benefit of those who would be impressed by such.

      Either way, if job hunting, she should stop there, and not express opinions of the reason for the change. Religion and politics are probably best avoided in the hiring process.

      As for me, never heard of the Curry School, and would not likely be impressed.

  11. Mr. Curry’s name was officially removed by the Board of Visitors.

  12. Oooh, there’s the Golden Opportunity. Now that the Curry School of Education is no more, they can change the name to the Marx School of Reeducation. (snicker)

  13. I have not commented so far but I, as usual, have a slightly different view. I am though, taken aback by the width and depth of what is going on now – way, way beyond just removing Confederate statues, pretty amazing and breathtaking and it’s not just one or two folks at UVA, it’s a bunch. Are there vocal opponents to this at UVA?

    I wonder who the UVA BOV is in makeup and if they have agreed to these changes unanimously without any real back and forth debate.. From what I can see,it looks like a lot of agreement and support to do these things.

    It makes one wonder what will happen to alumni support and for that matter prospective students deciding to choose another University that has not gone to these extremes (perhaps especially so if Mom/Dad are paying and are also outraged).

    It’s pretty clear, UVA (and others) are “all in” on this purging of names and symbols of the past and I would think – unafraid that it will really hurt their enrollment even if they lose some.

  14. “I don’t care if the two names are removed.”

    It certainly seems like you care a great deal.

    “But was it impossible to do it without expending what appear to be millions of dollars of employee time and years of “education and reflection””

    Had they not performed this due diligence you (who really don’t care apparently) would be complaining that they acted impetuously. This is now known as the Northam Covid Paradox.

    • Given the long standing stink around this issue on the Curry website, my sense is this decision was in practical effect baked into the cake long ago. Like most else at UVA these days, we are now at the all public relations and political show trial stage at UVA, a sort of cross between Clarence Thomas’ High Tech Lynching, and Jame’s Ryan’s virtual 2020 Convocation announcing that UVA was not opening the Grounds to students but was going to fight Covid virtually at a long distance from UVA students at home. Given late last month month, Ryan ignored and tossed out his convocation speech a week or two later after real university leaders lead the way in opening their campuses elsewhere.

      When thinking of Ryan as a “leader” one is reminded of Ryan’s closing down last year’s Veteran’s day 21 – gun salute on the Grounds by UVA ROTC, only to reverse himself days later, and blame the decision on others at the University, while claiming courage for himself in reversing “their decision.” This was accompanied by his website’s long line of obviously carefully curated comments declaring Jame Ryan’s decision to be akin to a “Gun Ho Marine,” and among other heroic appellations due a combat veteran of foreign wars.

  15. I received this today from a UVa. graduate.

    “This photograph and the text below it were sent around yesterday (9/12/20) by a UVA class of 1975 graduate to his fraternity brothers (Kappa Alpha). I have left his name out of this email. Click to view photo.


    This is a sign posted on a Lawn Room door right now. It has been up like this for about 2 weeks. I sent the picture to President Ryan a week ago and asked if the University was going to permit such a sign to stay up on such a public place as the Lawn. I told President Ryan that I absolutely support her right to her political opinions and her right to express them on her Lawn Room door but not the profanity. Ryan responded immediately and told me “We’re working on it”.

    Yesterday I went to Cville to knock on this door (room 36 East Lawn) and discuss the sign with the current occupant….if the sign was still there. It was. Not only is the University not going to remove it, they have assigned 2 UVA Ambassadors shown in the second picture to patrol the Lawn and prevent anybody else from taking it down, ie me. The University has determined this is her first amendment right.

    So I guess by their new standards it would be alright to hold up a Fuck Duke sign in the JPJ during a televised basketball game…or alright to put a Trump sign on another Lawn Room door underneath a big Fuck Liberals sign. Do you think???? I walked around the entire Lawn and was rather dumbfounded to see how many very radical liberal signs were posted on doors albeit this was the only one with such profanity. Not one alternative POV did I see.
    I did knock on the door and introduced myself as a former Lawn Resident of many years ago and asked the resident of this room in a very calm voice from a comfortable social distance why she needed to use such profanity to make her point in such a public place. She told me that these issues needed attention and this sign does so. I asked her if she had not learned during her 3 years at UVA any other way to make her case in a political discussion other than by using incendiary and profane language to which she said “it certainly got your attention”. I said the rest of the sign got my attention and I am here to discuss it.

    I then asked her why the need for the denigration of UVA to which she said UVA is as much a cause of all of this as anything. I asked her to explain that and she said this and I think this is a very accurate quote:

    “This institution was founded by a degenerate who owned and raped his slaves and then stole this property to build this institution for rich white people with slave labor.”

    Then she told me she did not appreciate me knocking on her door and slammed the door in my face.

    I spoke a little longer to her “door” and said the sign certainly got my attention but I can only assume she is not willing to debate any aspect of her views except with people that totally agree with her….this is the new collegiate way of debate. Only the liberal (and now increasingly radical liberal) point of view is allowed in signage or debate on any college campus including our own UVA. Nothing else is permitted or even tolerated.

    Then the 2 UVA ambassadors who were standing right behind me asked me to leave. I engaged in a discussion with them as to what they are instructed to do and they answered prevent any damage to that sign. I was prepared to use a small razor blade to remove the Fuck UVA part of this sign and they said I could not do that as it would be considered malicious damage to the University and a violation of her First Amendment Rights and they were prepared to restrain me from so doing.

    This is the level to which our University has disintegrated. Pres Ryan could certainly prohibit the profanity as is done at JPJ or other sports arenas ( at least it used to be done) and/or he could just ban all signage except on specific public posting sites but he has decided as just another liberal academic to tolerate this bull crap.

    In my view, this is now the official UVA position and I think this woman feels she could go paint Fuck UVA on any bldg and certainly or any Jefferson statue as her “right of free speech”. I think she would argue the University allows The 7 Society, Z, and IMP to paint signs on the bldgs so why not her. I think our current President and his administration see it her way and would permit this. Ryan is as bad if not worse than his predecessor.

    Get ready for more of this. Our only ability to do anything about this is to withhold our checks. The University is about to embark on anther huge fundraising campaign and we need to say no.

    I do urge you to go see this for yourself. In my view, it is totally disgusting.”

    • James Wyatt Whitehead V

      Hey Mr. Reed. My former student Victoria Spiotto was at the White House panel on Constitution Day. Victoria was on stage seated with some of the biggest historical minds and Ben Carson. She delivered a 5 minute speech highlighting Jefferson and condemning what is happening at UVA today. Blistering remarks on critical race theory. I was told she will meet with President Trump this afternoon.

      • James, you surely must be proud. Victoria Spiotto was magnificent. She, as you surely know is a student at Curry School of Education. I will post her remarks here before long. Her inspiring words are a wonderful tonic to the profanity laced sign on Mr. Jefferson’s lawn referred to above and also to the gratuitous and crude insults of Peter and Larry below that put into very clear focus the challenges and alternatives we face. The tide is turning. More to follow.

        • James Wyatt Whitehead V

          Mr. Reed I am proud of Victoria. I used to assign “American Sphinx” by Joseph Ellis. Character study of Jefferson. I remember Victoria was profoundly influenced by the book and the class. You know the White House offered Victoria 4 jobs and a number of the panel members requested a copy of the speech.

  16. so not a single person on the BOV opposed this? It was unanimous?

    must be a virtual scurrilous nest of yellow-bellied leftists!

  17. Heckfire – want to make real statement? Form a UVA alumni group at Liberty University ! 😉

  18. Reed,
    Please calm down and breathe deeply. I cannot understand what you are writing. Thank you.

  19. Time to form a New University – the University of Truth and Rightness.

    Leftists will never be allowed in and any found hiding will quickly be dealt with in the ugliest manner possible.

    Any student found messing around with leftist ideas will be booted forthwith.

    More and more such schools will be stood-up and form a network known as “The Big Right”. And they will NEVER EVER kneel at sports events.

    A new world for Higher Ed !

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