Category Archives: Uncategorized

A Student’s Perspective on the Election

Barack Obama’s victory this past Tuesday renewed in me feelings of hope and optimism that I was afraid might slip away. The two presidential candidates represented starkly different visions for America’s future: the embrace of America’s rich diversity on the one hand and its rejection on the other. The President’s reelection is a triumph over backwards-looking and intolerant positions that fundamentally contradict my vision of an America that lives up to its foundational principles.

Without a doubt, this campaign season was disheartening. It was an entirely cynical affair targeting people’s fears rather than uplifting their spirits. Both sides relied on vast stores of data to coldly penetrate the undecided American voters’ preferences, generating messages through focus groups and surveys, like designing a new Doritos flavor. In Virginia, a viscous deluge of negative advertisements engulfed us. We couldn’t even watch a YouTube video without being warned of the apocalyptic suffering that awaited us if the wrong candidate were elected. The worst part: even after ten seconds of these ads, you couldn’t tell which party it came from.

But still, I am reinvigorated. For me, the election marks the victory of a resilient progressivism that sprung to life in 2008. It is a victory over the idea that poverty is a self-inflicted condition. It is a victory over a party that wants to make it harder for poor people to vote. It is a victory over a nauseatingly hypocritical establishment that bemoans the state’s encroachment on personal liberty, yet callously treats women’s bodies as objects over which capricious state control is completely justified. It is a victory for the ideal of equal rights for all Americans, regardless of sexual orientation.

Mitt Romney had a dream to lead America as a Republican president and thus was forced to genuflect before far right donors in order to have a fighting chance against the frighteningly efficient Obama-campaign apparatus. America watched as the primary and then the general election systematically drained Romney of every last one his moderate inclinations. I even thought I could see a dullness in his eyes toward the end of the campaign as more and more of his political soul evaporated. But perhaps that’s too generous. Maybe that’s how he always looked. Maybe he never had a political soul.

Regardless, Obama’s victory affirms that the Republican Party is out of touch with the American electorate. This election has revealed the cruel irony of a Republican political machine that has spent millions of dollars alienating the very people that it needs to win elections in the future. By spending exorbitant amounts of money exploiting racial divisions and parroting outdated right-wing adages, Republicans have frozen themselves in a political tradition that is irrelevant given America’s tectonic demographic shifts since the end of the 20th century. All that money could have elected Mitt Romney – but it didn’t, and to me, this is one of the most significant victories of all. The Tea Party’s radical values have diffused through the Republican Party like a teabag in hot water, and unless Republicans can stanch the Tea Party’s pernicious percolation, they will find themselves losing election after election no matter how much money they spend.

Enormous questions remain regarding the future. Will our political leaders abandon petty partisan quibbles and start providing real leadership on pressing issues? Will Obama, liberated from election constraints, have more latitude in pursuing a progressive agenda? Despite these questions, the election has demonstrated that many folks believe in the project we have before us in rebuilding America. It is a project in which success depends on the inclusion of all Americans: rich and poor, white and colored, straight and gay. It has reminded me of why I’m proud to be an American and why I applied to the Batten School in the first place.

– Post by Shivesh Puri, MPP’13


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Filed under News/Opinion, Students, Uncategorized

Batten Election Night

After camping out all night in the Great Hall, many of the Batten students erupted in cheers with the victories of Barack Obama and Tim Kaine. Batten students were also very excited for the reelection of Gerry Connolly to the House of Representatives, father of current Batten student Caitlin Connolly.  At the peak of the night, Garrett was filled with over 60 students watching the election, pouring over their computers searching for the latest news (and trying to get the rest of their homework finished), and chowing down on some delicious snacks.  


Thanks to everyone who came out to watch the election in the Great Hall!


-Post by Aaron Chafetz

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Filed under Batten Council, Events, News/Opinion, Students, Uncategorized

October Faculty Spotlight: New Professor, Chloe Gibbs

Professor Chloe Gibbs


Name: Chloe Gibbs

Position: Assistant Professor of Public Policy & Education

Academic history: Ph.D., University of Chicago (2012)

M.P.P., University of Michigan (2003)

B.A., University of Notre Dame (2000)

Tell us something about yourself!

I grew up in Kentucky Wildcat country, and went to Notre Dame, so I am a big college sports fan. It seemed easy to incorporate the ‘Hoos and root for them too until Notre Dame joined the ACC recently, so now they will play each other!

What were the driving factors in your decision to join the Batten School faculty?

Having gone to policy schools for both my M.P.P. and Ph.D., I loved the idea of being in this new, up-and-coming policy school at a phenomenal institution. I wanted to teach M.P.P. students, and also felt like my research fit well here, especially with connections to Curry and the ed policy center. When I visited, I really enjoyed talking to the students, thought the faculty with whom I met would be great colleagues, and confirmed my expectations that this would be a wonderful place to be.

What’s your teaching philosophy?

I am still a bit in awe of the fact that I get to teach and work with M.P.P. students. I never would have imagined it 10 years ago, working away on my M.P.P. degree at the Ford School at Michigan. I think about the professors who taught me to think differently about a problem or helped me uncover the questions I was interested in pursuing and answering, or encouraged me to apply a different lens, consider an alternative, or reframe an argument, and I hope I can help students in those same ways. I also remember my post-M.P.P. job search—and those of many of my students in recent years—and want to equip students with skills that give them a competitive advantage in that search and in their careers. If I can help my students acquire and use the tools that will make them strong policy analysts, ready to tackle—critically and thoughtfully—the challenges and issues about which they are so passionate and knowledgeable, then I am happy.

Tell us about your research.

I study the impact and cost-effectiveness of early childhood interventions. I am interested in how we can best intervene—through policy and programs—in children’s lives to address early disadvantages. When kids arrive at school, where we have the most access and perhaps best opportunity to provide services and supports, they already exhibit sizable achievement gaps by socioeconomic status, race, and ethnicity. I hope we can uncover, through strong social science research, the most effective ways to rectify those disparities early and set children on a path to success in school and beyond. And, in a world of constrained resources, I also think a lot about how we choose optimally interventions and their timing. On a related note, I am also very interested in the long-term impact of early childhood program participation, and how effects in adulthood relate to immediate impact.

Who inspires you (and what kind of impact do you hope to make with your research)?

I have been very fortunate to have amazing mentors who are involved and influential in important policy discussions, conduct high-quality research, are super smart, and are genuinely nice, wonderful people. I certainly aspire to their examples in my career. And, I know how this is going to sound, but I am most inspired by my two daughters. I want to give them the best opportunities and experiences possible, and I also see every day the amazing process of child development that is relevant to my research. It highlights for me the stark disparities in access to resources (even simple things we take for granted like books), high-quality child care, and preschool opportunities. I think we can get to a better place in terms of how we invest equitably and efficiently in children’s early lives, but we need good evidence to do that.

What are you looking forward to most with the Batten School?

I am really excited to be at a relatively new policy school that is growing and establishing its reputation. I look forward to contributing to that development and seeing it take form. It is fun to be a part of this endeavor with a fantastic faculty, talented, knowledgeable administrators, and wonderful students to boot!

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Filed under Faculty, Research, Uncategorized

Batten Ball and Homecomings!

This year’s Homecoming Weekend events was truly an incredible way to celebrate the Batten School’s five year anniversary!  We kicked off the weekend with the Second Annual Silent Auction, which featured more than 30 donated items.  Students, faculty, staff and guests could bid on items such as themed dinners with Jill Rockwell (Belgian Bistro), Dean Harding (Chinese Dinner), Dean Warburg (Election Eve Prognosticators) or Professor Converse (Windy City Brunch); tickets to Bruce Springsteen; a Baseball Package with Howard Hoege; golf and dinner for 4 provided by Keswick Hall; multiple raffles from Duo and Harris Teeter; and so much more.  The auction itself raised over $3,000, almost three times the amount raised last year.  After the Silent Auction, we transitioned into the Batten Ball portion of the night with the delightful jazz band playing fun, upbeat songs that everyone was able to dance to. A huge thank you goes to Katharine Meyer for helping with catering for the event and to Jill Rockwell for finding donors and helping generate ideas. Thank you to Kaycie Gillette-Mallard for all of her work helping find donors and setting up the silent auction and Batten Ball, and Victoria Catanese and Emily Laser as well. Batten Council could not have put on such a successful event without all of your help!

Accelerated MPP Class of 2013

Following Friday’s events, the Batten Council hosted a Homecoming Tailgate on the terrace next to Garrett Hall!  We had AMAZING food catered by Rhett’s BBQ and enjoyed the gorgeous fall day.  Overall, planning these events was extremely worthwhile, everyone had so much fun over the weekend!

– Post by Amanda O’Malley, MPP’13

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October 23, 2012 · 12:03 pm

Leaves, Breeze, and Pumpkin Seeds!

Welcome to October Batten! So many exciting events are coming up. Let us know if you are doing something cool for fall break — submit a post or send in your photos!

Make sure to save the date for Batten Ball (Oct. 12) and other homecomings festivities! We will be hosting a silent auction from 6-8pm following by desserts and dancing from 8-11pm in Garrett Hall. Get your tickets now!

Get excited for fall retreat in West Virginia, October 19-21! We have a wonderful weekend planned full of camping and outdoor events, with a great speaker lined up to present on “Leading Through Crisis.”

Plan your outfits for trick-or-treating on the lawn, where we’ll be handing out candy to tons of adorably dressed Charlottesville kids! See our post “Boos, Hoos, and Little Ones too” for photos from last year.

– Post by Kaitlin Brennan

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Filed under Batten Council, Events, Students, Uncategorized

IM Sports Recap: Week 2

The Batten Ballers have completed their second week of the regular season. Our football game on Sunday unfortunately did not go in our favor, as the other team had quite a bit of height and experience over us. We didn’t let that get us down though, because no team is a match for our enthusiasm and spirit! Scott had an incredible interception in the final moments of the game, returning it for 80-yard touchdown. We plan to carry that momentum into our next game and hopefully we’ll bring back a win!

Batten continued our legacy of frisbee dominance tonight despite the chilly autumn air with an 5-3 win.  Aaron and Max had some great handling, and Scott and Kelly made some stellar defensive plays. Patrick and Ismael scored close points down the line. We’d also like to mention all of the newcomers that came out to play this week, we couldn’t have done it without you! And a special shout out to Gina and Luke for representing the first year MPP classes!

– Post by Kaitlin Brennan

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Filed under Batten Council, IM Sports, Students, Uncategorized

This past weekend, the Batten School hosted Governor McDonnell and his cabinet in our very own Garrett Hall. Read more about it here in UVAToday.

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September 18, 2012 · 2:14 pm