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University Democrats and the Democratic Party of Virginia released a joint statement denouncing Governor Glenn Youngkin’s appointment of College and Darden Alumnus Bert Ellis to the Board of Visitors Monday evening. The statement characterizes the appointment as insulting to students and organizations who have worked to make the University and Charlottesville more equitable.
“As the flagship institution of higher learning in the Commonwealth, Ellis’ appointment imperils the reputation and direction of the University,” the statement reads. “The regressive and dangerous positions that Mr. Ellis has taken at the University should disqualify him from making any long term decisions on behalf of Virginia and the student body.”
Ellis serves as president of the conservative alumni group the Jefferson Council. He also holds executive positions in three Atlanta-based businesses and is a co-owner of White Spot, a restaurant located on the Corner.
As a student, Ellis faced controversy for supporting the invitation of William Shockley, a eugenics supporter, to debate “The Correlation Between Race and Intelligence.” A month later, Ellis refused to co-sponsor an event with the Gay Student Union.
After Ellis’ initial appointment, he also drew criticism for an incident in 2020, when Ellis traveled to the University following controversy over signage on Lawn room doors that criticized the University's history of inaccessibility and enslavement. Per a statement made by Ellis himself, he was “prepared to use a small razor blade” to remove part of the sign before two University ambassadors explained this would be considered “malicious damage” and asked him to leave.
Student Council also previously called for Ellis to resign in an Executive Board statement made July 26.
Ellis — along with the three other newly appointed members — took his seat at the Board retreat on Aug. 21 and 22. The Board’s next meeting will take place the weekend of Sept. 15.