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Posted at 8:34 PM ET, 02/ 8/2011

Some Inclusion 101 for Va.'s 'exclusive' colleges

By Grant Donald Beale, Arlington

Nothing could better illustrate why the Virginia General Assembly should compel the University of Virginia and the College of William and Mary to accept an increased number of in-state students than the counterarguments set forth in John E. Valliere’s Feb. 6 letter.

There is no doubt that many U-Va. alumni share Mr. Valliere’s implied concerns that accepting a greater number of highly qualified in-state students might put U-Va.’s sense of exclusiveness (which he describes as “diversity”) at risk and — worse — could harm the image of “Mr. Jefferson’s university.”

Relative to state population, the University of Virginia is among the smallest public universities in the nation to bear the name of its state. By remaining small and relatively exclusive, U-Va. has underserved Virginia’s high school graduates for many years. Interestingly, U-Va.’s preoccupation with its national image caused previous state legislatures to provide funds that resulted in the expansion and enhancement of other top universities in the state, such as Virginia Tech, James Madison University and Virginia Commonwealth University, to the point that Virginians are the envy of many residents in other states who wish that they had so many fine choices of where to send their kids to a public college.

But with those days over and the legislature cutting its financial support for colleges, it is time for U-Va. and William and Mary to step up to the plate and pay less attention to their national image and more to serving the students of Virginia in a manner that would make Mr. Jefferson — at least the one whom I studied about — proud.

By Grant Donald Beale, Arlington  | February 8, 2011; 8:34 PM ET
Categories:  HotTopic, Virginia, education  
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I don't agree. First, high out of state tuitions help support the university (with which I have no connection). Second, it's unclear what the writer wants. Does he want U of Va's name on all the local schools and GMU to become University of Virginia at Fairfax? That would be a mistake, in my view.

Posted by: Nemo24601 | February 9, 2011 6:06 AM | Report abuse

As a double Hoo, I find this endless discussion of that Jefferson would want extremely tiresome.

However, I seriously doubt he would want to turn the University into the next University of Alabama.

Posted by: DC2Amsterdam | February 9, 2011 6:41 AM | Report abuse

DC2Amsterdam, what aspect of University of Alabama do find undesirable?

Posted by: kjh25177 | February 9, 2011 7:25 AM | Report abuse

The same issue exists in every state. For example, I grew up in North Carolina and got my degree from UNC. However, I spent almost all of my entire working life in Maryland. Therefore, one might say that the state of Maryland benefited more from my education than did North Carolina.

Out of state students just as often remain in the states in which the obtained their education for the rest of their lives as do in state students. Out of state students broaden a university, and give it more cultural diversity.

Colleges in Northeastern states are much more expensive than in Southern and Southeastern states. Therefore many students from the Northeast go out of state when they go to college. I think this is mutually beneficial.

Posted by: samsara15 | February 9, 2011 8:16 AM | Report abuse

UVa may be relatively small, but that is partly due to the large number of public colleges in VA. Let's face it, we have many more choices than other states do.

As for the state setting admissions policy: it must firstly sufficient endow UVa. The state has not done that. But the major problem is people like Cuccinelli, who seems intent on forcing his views on everyone and everything in sight. To maintain a semblance of independence colleges must consequently rely on funding independent of the state.

Posted by: AMviennaVA | February 9, 2011 8:40 AM | Report abuse

Can't say I buy Mr. Beale's argument. Serving more Virginians won't mean a thing if public colleges lack the financial support they need for the programs, research and educators that earned them those national accolades. Just as high school grads from the northeast find better deals on a college education in Virginia, Virginia students are also looking elsewhere for affordable educations.

As for the Post report that triggered the letters of Mr. Beale and others, a closer look at the student profiled reveals he lacks the credentials for admission to UVA or W&M. That 3.99 GPA is certainly weighted with AP classes. And his SAT scores were good, but hardly the stuff to make colleges fawn over him.

The harsh reality is that in order to achieve the diversity all colleges want, grades, gender and ethnicity are only part of the equation. Geography plays a role, and kids from Northern Virginia with 3.99 GPAs are a dime a dozen.

The young man featured by the Post could likely apply to an out-of-state college and be offered in-state tuition that is lower that Virginia's. My daughter got that offer, and from a public university in another state to which she never applied.

Posted by: newsjunkie25 | February 9, 2011 9:00 AM | Report abuse

Fiscally illogical argument: "But with those days over and the legislature cutting its financial support for colleges, it is time for U-Va. and William and Mary to step up to the plate and pay less attention to their national image and more to serving the students of Virginia." So let me get this straight - the state now gives the schools much LESS money than in the past, so the schools should close the gap by accepting fewer of the out of state students who pay HIGHER tuition? I hope the writer of the article didn't study math at a Virginia university.

Posted by: jak2 | February 9, 2011 9:51 AM | Report abuse

State funded colleges should give preference to in-state students provided the in-state student is as or more qualified, period. I know HS students who have 3.8 GPAs and can't get into U of MD because they are weighting the admissions for out of state dollars. It's an injustice to the Maryland students of that caliber. And an injustice to the families who pay taxes to the state which partly funds the U of MD. Same thing in Virginia, only that state does offer more options at other good colleges than UVA and W&M. As with almost everything in our society now, it comes down to dollars. Loyalty means zero.

Posted by: tmccabejr | February 9, 2011 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Sure...dumb it down in the name of "diversity" or "multiculturalism" or "affirmative action" or "equal opportunity" or whatever PC gibberish floats your progressive boat. America is failing for not recognizing that EXCELLENCE drives SUPERIOR PERFORMANCE, not EQUALITY.

Posted by: joelevin | February 9, 2011 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Maybe if the letter writer had demonstrated some reasoning and evidence in his college essays, he would have been accepted?

If the emotional demand is merely “let’s water down a decent public university because I say so,” then sorry: you’ll need to attend an unaccredited fundamentalist private college. With that, you’re guaranteed meaningful employment with the GOP or Heritage Foundation.

Posted by: SydneyP | February 9, 2011 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Let's not knock those Northern Virginia students with their top performance resumes, but instead welcome them into our caliber VA State higher education schools in greater number. Why? They might be the same brainiacs who help lead Virginia upward economically over the next decades rather than laterally as many economist fear is inevitable.

There's an old saying, "you stroke my back and I'll stroke yours". More Virginia in-state acceptances may grease the wheels for these graduates to pay us back by putting their degree talents to work right here where they were raised as well as offer strong financial support as alumni to the very schools who accepted them.

Gratitude in this harsh economic climate goes a long way....

Posted by: hollowmen | February 10, 2011 7:43 PM | Report abuse

What makes the author think it's so easy for out-of-state students to be accepted at top VA schools? When I went to W&M, the college accepted only 1 out of 10 out-of-state women. What VA colleges need is more state funding support, not fewer out-of-state students. We out-of-staters paid far more for schools that received very little in the way of state operating funds to justify the huge in-state discount.

Posted by: pldrake | February 11, 2011 2:57 PM | Report abuse

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