A special committee at George Washington University (GW) has decided to rename one of its buildings named after a former university president who supported racial discrimination.
The school announced that it would strip the name of the university’s longest-serving president, Cloyd Heck Marvin, from the building on its Foggy Bottom campus.
The building will now be called the University Student Center, the school announced. The university is in the process of changing signage related to the erstwhile Marvin Center and educating the community about its former president.
“GW doesn’t change names lightly, and the board appreciates the hard work and consultation with the community that brought us to this point,” Board Chair Grace Speights said.
Marvin served as university president between 1927 to 1959, during which he expanded a single school building into a sprawling campus. The university also witnessed dramatic growth in endowment and student enrollment under his tutelage.
Despite his importance in the development of the university, Marvin resisted admitting Black students to the university. He also restricted free speech on campus. The school decided to name the building after him in 1971, two years following his death.
The special committee reviewed and considered feedback from the GW community before drafting a “compelling” case to rename the Marvin Center. The committee also noted that renaming school buildings should only be done under extraordinary circumstances.
“Although it is not within our purview to make the ultimate decision on renaming, the Special Committee members do hope that university leadership – whatever they decide – will use this as an opportunity for community building, education, and healing,” the committee wrote.