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Thursday, May 06, 2021

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Board of Trustees to create commission on renaming

<p>Tyler Haynes Commons shines its reflection onto Westhampton lake.</p>

Tyler Haynes Commons shines its reflection onto Westhampton lake.

The University of Richmond Board of Trustees will create a commission to establish principles on renaming, according to an email sent to the UR community on April 12. 

The Board suspended its decision regarding the renaming of Ryland and Mitchell-Freeman halls on April 5. The suspension followed a unanimous vote by the University Faculty Senate to censure Rector Paul Queally for his conduct with UR community members in conversations about renaming. 

The work of the commission will be inclusive and ensure a new start in regards to considering renaming decisions, according to the email. The commission will include members of the UR community and independent members with relevant experience and expertise.

“We look forward to working with the commission and the University community to ensure a clear framework that reflects a broad range of valuable input,” the email stated. “The commission will be charged to engage the campus community in substantive and inclusive conversations in the course of its work and to provide a range of opportunities for faculty, staff, students, and alumni to share their views.”

The Board has asked Trustees Georgia Nugent, president of Illinois Wesleyan University and former president of Kenyon College, and John Roush, president emeritus of Centre College, to lead the planning for the commission and work alongside UR president Ronald Crutcher and senior leadership to generate a recommendation to the Board regarding the commission process and membership, according to the email.  

Ed Ayers, UR president emeritus, and Julian Hayter, professor of leadership studies, are serving as advisers in planning the commission, according to the email. 

“This is clearly a very important issue for the University, and I am prepared to offer any assistance I can to President Crutcher and the Board as they lay the foundation for this commission,” Ayers wrote in an email to The Collegian on April 12. 

Ayers has worked to help discover and document UR’s history and co-chaired the commission that oversaw the research on Robert Ryland and Douglas Southall Freeman, he said. 

“It is important that we explore, understand, and share those broader histories as we determine the best principles for naming places on campus,” Ayers wrote. “I am looking forward to drawing on those experiences in this planning work.”

Ayers has also served as an adviser to similar commissions at other institutions and as a member of the Monument Avenue Commission in Richmond, he wrote. 

In creating its recommendations to the Board, the planning group will consider the approaches taken by other institutions, according to the email from the Board. The planning work will be conducted expeditiously, the email said. 

Senior Will Walker  wrote in an email to The Collegian that the Board’s decision to not directly rename buildings seemed like an attempt to wait student leaders out. 

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“If UR is truly committed to fostering inclusion, its Board must take swift action to rename Ryland and Freeman halls without the direct input of a commission whose membership includes no students, according to the recent email,” Walker wrote. 

The planning stage for the commission will consider all community input on this issue that has been -- or will be -- received by the Board, Crutcher and the planning group, according to the email from the Board. Members of the community are encouraged to offer further thoughts or consideration as the details of the commission are finalized here

The Board’s email was sent on the same day that UR faculty passed a motion of no confidence in Rector Paul Queally and called for his resignation from the Board, according to a statement obtained by The Collegian.

Contact news co-editor Ryan Hudgins at ryan.hudgins@richmond.edu

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