Suspending Recent Building Naming Decisions

April 8, 2021

Dear Alumni,

We are committed to the important and difficult work of researching, uncovering, and better understanding the University’s past so that we might learn from it. Our interest all along has been to chart a path that resulted in an honest and unvarnished account of the University’s history. That prompted extensive research to explore and understand the lives and legacies of the Rev. Robert Ryland and Douglas Southall Freeman and to help us wrestle with the question of the campus buildings which bear their names.

In February, I announced the decision to retain the names on the buildings so that the history of our campus might be confronted, thoroughly understood, enlivened, and expanded. After announcing this decision, students, faculty, staff, and alumni shared their deep concerns. Most recently, I have spoken with the Alumni Association Board of Directors, as have members of the Board of Trustees, to discuss the decision and to better understand concerns expressed by the alumni community.

We respect the deep convictions about these names among faculty, staff, students, and alumni, and the Board of Trustees and I accept that we have not handled either the process or the decision relating to the building naming matter as well as we should have.

Accordingly, the Board of Trustees and I have decided to suspend the recent naming decisions and to review options for a broader, more inclusive process to determine how decisions are made about questions of renaming. Alumni views will be an important part of this process. The Board has indicated that it expects to communicate our plans shortly. At the same time, we will continue our ongoing work to ensure that the University is a place where all our students and members of our community can thrive.

As a university, we place special importance on being thorough, thoughtful, and inclusive. I am confident that we will learn from this moment and come together to advance our work, united in our care for the University and by the aspirations we all have for it.


Ronald A. Crutcher