Detail of the Memorial to Enslaved Laborers

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Photo: Detail of the Memorial to Enslaved Laborers at UVA

AT A GLANCE

UVA President Jim Ryan has asked the committee to study the contextualization of all the statues on Grounds and to tender a timely recommendation to the president about that project -- what it might entail, why it might be desirable, and how it might best be done. Accordingly, the committee is working on that right now -- in this work, the Naming and Memorials Committee has been entrusted with an extraordinary educational opportunity to help the University continue to tell our long and complex story. 

In the News

Two Commissions Take On a Complicated Landscape

Body

By: Richard Gard | Published February 25, 2021 | Original Publication: Virginia Magazine | Photo by Cole Geddy

In a reform of how the University of Virginia goes about naming and renaming buildings and memorials, the Ryan administration has restructured and replaced the committee in charge of

COMMITTEE CHARGE

As a public university, we have a responsibility to interpret that story for current and future generations, to give it context and meaning. Such work is entirely consonant with our mission as a community dedicated to education, to prepare students for citizenship, and to advance the common good by helping the public know and understand what our history is and why it matters today. 

  • A thoughtful and percipient contextualization initiative could do just that -- it would contribute to an understanding of the University's place in the on-going history of our democracy; it would not merely relate the triumphs of the University, but should aspire to advance a balanced, critical, and reflective view in telling the University’s story and its role in the nation’s past.

  • Then, we will begin to study the issue of the Frank Hume memorial, or Whispering Wall, as it is often called, whether to rename or remove, or some other option. After careful study and deliberation, we will make a recommendation to President Ryan. 

  • Following that, we will work on naming and renaming principles and protocols. Names are a mark of our identity and values. Often redolent of complex narratives, the names we employ (or choose not to employ) signal to the world—and, crucially, codify for the UVA community -- our gratitude, our aspirations, and our understanding of the legacies that have been entrusted to us and our successors to further the common good. 

Thereafter, the committee will render decisions on particular cases that come before the group. 

COMMITTEE MEMBERS

  • Rusty Conner, Board of Visitors member, former rector, and partner in the law firm of Covington & Burling LLP.

  • Kevin Gaines, Julian Bond Professor of Civil Rights and Social Justice and professor of history and African American and African studies, and Miller Center senior fellow.

  • Claudrena Harold, chair of the Corcoran Department of History, professor of African American and African studies and history.

  • Jessica Harris, Presidential Fellow, Office of the President.

  • Meredith Jenkins, chief investment officer, Trinity Church Wallstreet, and member of the University of Virginia Investment Management Company’s board of directors.

  • John Jeffries, counselor to President Jim Ryan, and David and Mary Harrison Distinguished Professor of Law.

  • Mazzen Shalaby, Board of Visitors student member.

  • Michael Suarez, S.J., committee chair, executive director of the Rare Book School, professor of English and University Professor.