Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin announced the appointment of four new members to the Board of Visitors Thursday — College and Darden alumnus Bert Ellis, previous Board member Stephen Long, Abingdon Town Council member and Education alumna Amanda Pillion and College and Law alumnus Doug Wetmore. The four new members will take their seats for the first time during the Board’s retreat in August.
Composed of 17 voting members appointed by the governor, the Board meets four times per year and is responsible for the long-term planning of the University. The new members replace previous Board members Dr. L.D. Britt, Frank Conner, Barbara Fried and C. Evans Poston.
Ellis is a business executive who holds leadership positions in three Atlanta based companies, Ellis Capital, Johnson Energy Storage and Ellis Communications. Additionally, Ellis is one of 15 University graduates who co-own White Spot, a restaurant located on the Corner.
Ellis spoke to Youngkin’s role in appointing new Board members in a year-end update for the Jefferson Council at the end of 2021.
“This is our only opportunity to change/reverse the path to ‘wokeness’ that has overtaken our entire University,” Ellis said.
Ellis also serves as the president of The Jefferson Council, a conservative group of University alumni and other stakeholders “dedicated to preserving the legacy of Thomas Jefferson.” Most recently, The Jefferson Council co-sponsored an event with former vice president Mike Pence, along with the student organization Young Americans for Freedom.
Following controversy over signage on Lawn room doors in fall 2020 that used expletives to critique the University’s history of enslavement and inaccessibility, Ellis traveled to the University to visit the Lawn room of the resident who posted the original sign. Per a message written by Ellis himself, he “prepared to use a small razor blade” to remove the explicit part of the sign, but two University ambassadors explained that this would be considered malicious damage and asked him to leave.
Ellis has also previously noted his disapproval of the presence of diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives at the University — which he has characterized as “completely out of hand” — and is a fervent supporter of the University's Honor system, having previously expressed that “without Honor, there is no U.Va..”
Long was first appointed to the Board in 2011 by former governor Robert McDonnell, where he served until 2015 — meaning Long was present for the controversial ousting and reinstatement of former president Teresa Sullivan, as well as the University’s response to the Rolling Stone controversy surrounding the publication of the now-debunked 2014 article “A Rape on Campus.”
A specialist in anesthesiology and pain management, Long graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University medical school and is currently a partner in Commonwealth Pain Management.
Pillion was elected to Abingdon Town Council in 2020 and served on Youngkin’s transition team to help the new governor select new staff members.
Wetmore currently serves as the senior vice president of Centauri Health Solutions and was appointed by Youngkin to the Commission on Higher Education Board in April. Wetmore attended Norfolk Academy, an elite private high school, with Youngkin.
University President Jim Ryan said he is looking forward to working with the Board to accomplish the goals laid out in the University’s 2030 Strategic Plan.
“I’m grateful for the service of our outgoing Board members toward these efforts, and I am looking forward to collaborating with our newest Board members as we continue to work to make the University the absolute best version of itself,” Ryan said.