The Walter N. Ridley Distinguished Speaker Series

Walter Ridley was the first African American to graduate from the University of Virginia, with a doctorate in education from the School of Education and Human Development. This series has been created to honor his legacy at the University and his contributions to the field of education.

Tony Jack

The Privileged Poor: How Elite Colleges Are Failing Disadvantaged Students 


Anthony A. Jack
Assistant Professor of Education, Harvard University

Thursday, March 18
10:00 a.m.
Virtual Event advanced registration required)
University of Virginia

Download the event flyer

What does it mean to be a poor student on a rich campus? This question is all the more important as colleges and universities continue to take affirmative steps to socioeconomically diversify their campuses. In this talk, Anthony Jack examines how class and culture shape how undergraduates navigate college by exploring the “experiential core of college life,” those too often overlooked moments between getting in and graduating. Here, he sheds new light on how inequality is reproduced by contrasting the experiences of the Privileged Poor—lower-income students who graduate from boarding, day, and preparatory high schools—and the Doubly Disadvantaged—lower-income undergraduates who graduate from public, typically distressed high schools. Drawing on interviews with 103 undergraduates and two years of observing everyday life at an elite university, Jack interrogates the social and personal costs of exclusion that have implications for undergraduates’ objective opportunities and their social well-being.

Anthony Abraham Jack (Ph.D., Harvard University) is a junior fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows and assistant professor of Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He holds the Shutzer Assistant Professorship at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.

University of Virginia's First Black Graduate: Dr. Walter N. Ridley

Dr. Walter N. Ridley, a native Virginian and a respected, accomplished academic at one of Virginia's oldest public institutions of higher education (Virginia State College, Petersburg), was admitted to UVa three years before the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision which ordered desegregation of public schools. He became the University's first black graduate in June 1953, and the nation's first African-American to receive a doctorate degree from a white southern university. Throughout his life, Dr. Ridley was committed to the education of black college students and making a positive impact on society.


The 2021 Walter N. Ridley Distinguished Speaker Series is presented by the School of Education and Human Development Diversity Action Council, the School of Education and Human Development Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, the School of Education and Human Development EdCouncil, the School of Education and Human Development Office of the Dean, the UVA Office of the President, and the Ridley Scholarship Fund.