History has always been a black topic at UVA.
But it’s one that has been debated by both sides.
In 2016, an investigation by the Charlottesville City Council found that the school’s African American Studies department had no black students in 2015.
In 2017, the school settled a lawsuit that claimed it discriminated against black students by excluding them from classes and by not offering them mentoring.
And now, the Virginia Board of Education voted to add two black women to its history department as well as to the board’s board of trustees.
This is the second time the school has added two black men to its board of directors.
“We have always been known for our diversity,” UVA dean of students Richard C. C. Brown said in a statement.
“This includes our women’s and African American history departments.
We are thrilled to welcome our first African American female member to our board.”
Brown added that the women will serve as “superintendents” and will have a “major impact on the campus” and on students’ “achievements and career opportunities.”
“Their leadership, their experience, their leadership, and their ability to make an impact on students and their faculty will be a tremendous asset for the University,” he said.
The women will join a growing number of women who are on the UVA board of governors, including the president of the board, Michael M. Fischbach, and the school president, Nancy L. Dyer.
Citing concerns about race and diversity in higher education, the board voted last month to add three black women, including a trustee, to its seven-member executive committee.
Doria, a history professor at UAB who is black, said she had not heard of the addition until recently, but felt that adding two black members was a positive move.
“I feel like there are a lot of white students at UU, and we’ve seen some very negative things about our university, but I think having more African American voices in higher ed is very positive,” she said.
Brown, who is white, said the addition of the women to the university’s board was a good step.
“What they have to do is really do a great job of reaching out to all of the black community,” he added.
“There are many white people on this board who don’t necessarily feel that way.”
For many people, though, adding two women to a board of faculty is not a good idea.
They worry that the inclusion of two black people will be seen as an admission of racism.
“It’s really upsetting to have the same white person on a board that has two African American people and the white people are not in the majority,” said Jennifer Stokes, a graduate student in history at UMass Amherst.
“For them to be in that position, to be the vice president of that board and then to be there and then have to come out and say that you’re in the minority is really insulting to me.
I’m not a part of that group.”
Stokes said she hopes the women on the board have an impact.
“My hope is that this will be the start of a conversation about inclusion on college campuses,” she added.
Brown added he is committed to expanding the school to include more minorities.
“Every year, I try to make sure that we have a board and a board chair that reflects the diversity of our students,” he told BuzzFeed News.
“They can say we are the most diverse school on the planet and that’s true, but that does not mean that the students themselves are all equal.”