University of Richmond

Apparently, Not All In The UR Community Pleased Governor McDonnell Will Be Its Commencement Speaker

The governor of the commonwealth, whoever he happens to be or will be in the future, typically makes the rounds to address  many of Virginia's fine colleges and universities during his one four-year term. This includes private colleges — beneficiaries of Virginia's Tuition Assistance Grants, which make their often excruciatingly high tuition affordable for students not children of billionaires. Often, when the governor visits a campus, it's as its commencement speaker. The constitution doesn't entitle him his "Excellency" without reason. In Virginia, we have practice the utmost decorum and respect for the office and the officeholder, even if we disagree with his policies. Typically, when governors typically address Virginia students, it is on matters inspirational not political. Apparently, though, that doesn't matter to at least one University of Richmond alumna, who expressed in the campus paper The Collegian her grave disappointment in her alma mater's selection of Governor Bob McDonnell as its May commencement speaker. Not only is she personally upset, she writes that the university is violating its own policies:

The University Promise, Principle II, states that “[t]he University of Richmond will be a diverse and inclusive community, strengthened intellectually and socially by the range of knowledge, opinion, belief, and political perspective and background of its members, whether of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, ability status, age, religious, economic, or geographic origin.” McDonnell stands against everything UR claims it stands for in Principle II.

Quite a charge. After all, this past February . . .

UR was given a four-star LGBT-friendly rating by the Campus Climate Index, run by Campus Pride, an organization that works to create more LGBT-friendly campus environments. We provide benefits to same-sex partners and are actively creating a safer and more welcoming campus for queer people.

Translation: LGBT = Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender. We think you understand "queer."

Then comes the bill of particulars against the governor:

In contrast, McDonnell has made clear his stance on queer issues. He was an author of the constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman that passed in 2006. ... McDonnell just recently stated that he believed that a child needed to have a mother and father. (Emphasis added.)

Imagine that! Moms! Dads! Without which the alumna wouldn't even be here. Amazing. I'm sure the governor pleads guilty.

To be fair, the comments section after the opinion piece was somewhat balanced, showing that not everyone at, or associated with, UR is hopelessly intolerant. But it demonstrates how far and fast academia has run to the left for a recent grad to be so closed minded to others' points of views as to want to shut them down. Speaking of principles, isn't the university a realm in which to explore and examine ideas, even those one may not be immediately inclined toward? It also shows a lack of respect for Governor McDonnell — imagine the outcry if a conservative alumnus or student discourteously opined about and inaccurately accused Tim Kaine regarding his policies? Perhaps worse, though, is that it reveals how little of both sides students get on campus now given her lack of understanding of the issues and verbatim caricature of them by the far left as fact.

Also in the Category Of Stuff I Couldn’t Make Up

Here's something else I couldn't make up. Two days ago, I received an invitation to my alma mater’s Reunion Rally 2012. Even more ironic than when the University of Richmond calls me to contribute, this invite noted that the “Rally program will include the presentation of the Alumni of Richmond Awards for Distinguished Service, the Jepson School’s Tenth Year Reunion Recognition Award as well as class reunion awards.” While it might seem normal to invite general alumni and especially previous recipients of the Jepson School’s Tenth Year Reunion Recognition Award ceremony to applaud current recipients, it’s a bit odd in my case. Those who followed the saga will remember that after the faculty committee selected me as the 2010 recipient, the students went nutty, questioning whether the Jepson School would “give Hitler an award” just because he could get large groups of people to do things, (since in their view it was a nearly identical situation being that I led the 2006 effort to add a marriage amendment to the Virginia Constitution—just as 31 other states have!).

I probably didn’t share the whole story publicly at the time but lots of funny things started to happen when the students began to protest:

1) While the decision of the committee was unanimous, the actual committee members went into hiding and no one would take ownership of the vote

2) The original plan of presenting the award, along with awards from the Business School etc., magically disappeared as the B School couldn’t make the event happen (or something like that).

3) The award ended up being presented to me off campus.

4) At a restaurant.

5) In the very back, back.

6) In a private room.

7) With the dean and two other professors.

8) And definitely not with President Ayers.

8) Where, although I can’t recollect, I don’t think a picture was taken at all.

This was the reaction to a student protest AT THE LEADERSHIP SCHOOL.

Rest assured, no invite to my award “ceremony” went out.  Rest assured that President Ayers was no where to be found publicly connected to the “embarrassing” incident, except in the board room where I’m told he embraced the push back from students and faculty on the choice.  Quite a different reaction from the picture in my Spring 2012 alumni magazine of this year’s recipient being handed the award by President Ayers even before the scheduled rally.

I loved every minute I spent at Jepson and UR.  I loved nearly all the professors I had (everyone has the one or two they disdain!).  But the whole incident caused me to seriously reassess who had taught me leadership.  Admittedly, by 2010, very few of my esteemed professors were still on faculty, nor was the fabulous dean I had when I attended but, nevertheless, it was not a portrait in courage and decision-making.

I guess I should be glad I’m still on the invite list?

OUT For Work Recognizes University Of Richmond

We alert you, for what it's worth, that the University of Richmond's Career Development Center, according to the September 6 Richmond Times-Dispatch, earned a bronze star ranking in the 2010 LGBTQ* Career Center Certification Report from an organization called OUT For Work. Surely, its students feel a sense of relief and redemption, perhaps cleansing, from the horrible shame it endured last spring. (*The "Q" is for "Questioning.")

TFF President Victoria Cobb Receives UR Alumni Leadership Award

Family Foundation President Victoria Cobb was one of two graduates to receive the University of Richmond’s Jepson School of Leadership Studies' 10th Reunion Recognition Award this past weekend. Unfortunately, a handful of vocal students and faculty used the award as an opportunity to protest Victoria, the Family Foundation and traditional values, exhibiting a wonderful hypocrisy: All for free speech except when it's speech and ideas different from theirs (see Richmond Times-Dispatch). Not exactly what higher education is about. But we're not shocked. Conservatives routinely are shouted down and protested against on American campuses (which, we suppose, is a measure of the effectiveness of those speakers). Oh, to be young and have no responsibility and no clue. The university issued a press release which said, in part, regarding Victoria and the other  recipient (see entire statement here):

These two have a great deal in common. They both have spent their professional lives doing work in nonprofits that they see as supporting families and children. Mothers with husbands who are fellow Jepson School graduates, they are committed to leading balanced lives where family and professional achievement are aligned. And, for both of them, faith is a central component in their lives.

Student response in the campus paper ridiculed pro-family, traditional values. On Friday afternoon about 40 students staged a small protest as Victoria participated in a school-sponsored panel discussion on leadership. So much for fostering diversity and tolerance. Interestingly, the school administration even allowed protesters inside the academic building where the panel discussion was taking place.

Jepson Protest

No classes, no tests, no papers due — and no clue.

Victoria, who joined The Family Foundation in 2000, has been president since 2004. Her proven leadership abilities propelled her quickly through the ranks, first as a policy analyst, then Director of Legislative Affairs and, ultimately, into her role as President. Today, The Family Foundation comprises a full-time professional staff in Richmond, coordinating the grassroots efforts of tens of thousands of pro-family citizen activists throughout Virginia. Under her leadership, The Family Foundation has become the Commonwealth’s most influential pro-family advocacy organization.

The staff, volunteers and Board of The Family Foundation are very proud of Victoria, her leadership and her willingness to stand up for our values in the face of hostility. While many in politics try to avoid "controversial" social issues, she has chosen to take a strong, public stand and to lead. She, and The Family Foundation, do that by working with a cross section of organizations and office holders, but do it without compromising principle. In fact, the list of legislative partners we team with each year would shock most. Which is what leadership and the award is all about — getting results, not rallying like-minded types to hurl insults at protests. Which is also something the protesting students should learn while in college.

And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake; but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. - Matthew 10:22 

Virginia News Stand: November 11, 2009

Annotations & Elucidations "Stylistic" Election Coverage

The Communications Department didn't come up with much from conventional news sources today, but I dug around and found, in of all places, in-depth election coverage and post mortems from Richmond's too-old-to-be-hip-anymore weekly freebie, Style Weekly, which now delves into the business of the serious. It's done a decent job, too. Of particular interest are the hat-tips to Republicans by Democrat guru-strategist Paul Goldman and the whining of Claire Guthrie Gastañaga, Equality Virginia's lobbyist. University of Richmond Professor Daniel Palazzolo harangues Governor Tim Kaine and Scott Bass gets about half of it right. It's funny when liberals try to manipulate conservative mandates by telling us what they want the results to mean is fact, and then fratricidally turn on themselves (a sure sign that their interpretation of the results is a disingenuous attempt to water down the victory).

Elsewhere, Republican Ron Villanueva was declared the winner in the closest House of Delegates race, but it's only one step toward resolution, and will go on still longer, for sure. Attorney General Bill Mims is doing what all former attorneys general do (especially those who fill out a term of an elected one), and that is sign on with a big bucks power law law firm, while Senator Edd Houck (D-17, Spottsylvania) makes the news for the second day on the trot, describing a dour picture of state funding to localities. Nationally, the Washington Post reports that pro-abortion activists are trying to muzzle the free speech rights of pro-life clinics and information centers.


Misaligned: How Virginia Democrats overestimated the power of Obama and underestimated the importance of independent voters. (Style Weekly)

Villanueva declared winner in 21st District race (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot)

Houck paints dire budget picture to city and Spotsy (Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star)

Attorney General to join Hunton and Williams (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Kaine Takes a Hike (Style Weekly)

National News:

Disclaimer proposed for anti-abortion clinics (Washington Post)


McDonnell, Picture Perfect (Paul Goldman/Style Weekly)

Presumptive Politics (Paul Goldman/Style Weekly)

McDonnell's Power Surge (Scott Bass/Style Weekly)

Democratic Downers (Margaret Edds/Style Weekly)


Shilling For Bob (Claire Guthrie Gastañaga/Style Weekly)

Losing Legacy (Daniel Palazzolo/Style Weekly)

Editorial Comics:

"For Whom the Bell Tolls" (Glenn Foden/

"A Year Later . . ." (Scott Stantis/

comic 4comic 3

Despicable New Liberal Low

All 100 seats in the House of Delegates are up for election this year and more of them than in recent cycles have major two party competition. This is because Democrats — fresh after the 2007 capture of the Virginia Senate and gains in the House, and the 2008 Virginia victory by Barack Obama — thought they had a realistic chance of taking the House. Competitive campaigns are welcome. They bring out the best in candidates, good ideas, and illustrate the differences between the two primary strains of political thought. But there is a sure difference between tough competition and despicable conduct. That's the case in the 73rd House of Delegates campaign between Democrat challenger Tom Shields and Republican incumbent, Dr. John O'Bannon

With 100 campaigns, it's difficult to keep up with them all, but this one sticks out because it was an early Democrat target. Shields, who teaches "leadership" at the University of Richmond, went low and dishonest from the start, claiming Delegate O'Bannon never held constituent meetings or mailed newsletters. He continued the falsehoods even after confronted with physical evidence.

He's only gone lower since and his mailer yesterday defies description: It claims that Delegate O’Bannon, the only physician in the House — and a neurologist, at that — has not only worked against Alzheimer’s patients, but also is to blame for the lack of a cure for the disease! Not entirely shocking coming from a hard-core campus leftist ideologue who only cares to help secure control of the House for his party, but still difficult to contemplate how he and the state Democrat party hacks advising him manage to think up such low and despicable rhetoric — and how they find ways to top their previous dishonesties.

The fact is, Delegate O'Bannon has been a leader in funding research for this disease and, for it, the Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Richmond presented him with its Advocate Award. I guess Shields knows more than the Alzheimer’s Association. Either that, or he's calling the Alzheimer’s Association a stooge front group. Competition is good. Unfortunately, Shields isn't interested in that. Instead, the fervor of taking power for his party leads him to the gutter.

UR Law Students Host Title X Debate

The Richmond Federalist Society and the University of Richmond Law Students for Life are sponsoring a debate at noon on Title X funding, October 21, at the University of Richmond School of Law. The debate participants are William Saunders, senior vice president of legal affairs and lead counsel for Americans United for Life, and Stephanie Toti, staff attorney for the U.S. Legal Program at the Center for Reproductive Rights. Ms. Toti argued against Virginia's partial birth abortion law in front of  the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals during that drawn out, two-year process. There's less doubt as to Mr. Saunders' position. The two should provide for an engaging give and take, to say the least. To RSVP, or for more information, please contact Carl Tate at