By unanimous vote on July 16, Virginia’s State Board for Community Colleges instructed local community college advisory boards across the commonwealth to review the appropriateness of the names of our colleges, campuses and facilities.
Leading up to the vote, VCCS Chancellor Glenn DuBois had written to college presidents, noting “institutions far and wide are examining, and in many cases exorcising, symbols of systemic racism that have existed in plain sight for years. I believe we must join this conversation and focus a high level of scrutiny on the names that adorn our facilities.”
In the words of the resolution approved by the VCCS governing body, “the mission of Virginia’s Community Colleges and their shared dedication to the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion demand we examine the names regularly facing our students, faculty, staff, and supporters on their community college journey and determine if those names are consistent with that mission and those values.”
(The full text of the resolution is below)
Recognizing the sensitivity of the issue and to allow time for careful research and consideration, the state board is asking for reports back from the local college advisory boards by mid-March 2021, at the latest.
“We have certain names on our buildings that many, I think, would say are inappropriate,” said DuBois during the State Board meeting, “and those are names our students see every day. …Some of our colleges are named after slave holders and segregationists.”
DuBois reminded the state board that it has the sole authority to name colleges and campuses, and that local college advisory boards have been delegated permission to name buildings and classrooms.
“I think as a matter of fair process, we have to engage the local boards,” added DuBois. “The college presidents will have to provide a lot of leadership….They want to do the right thing, and we’ll give them as much help as we can.”
Board member David Broder noted, “I would hope that, as local college boards undertake this review that they have a very open process to receive input from students and community members.”
Here’s the full text of the VCCS State Board resolution:
WHEREAS, the mission of Virginia’s Community Colleges and their shared dedication to the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion demand we examine the names regularly facing our students, faculty, staff, and supporters on their community college journey and determine if those names are consistent with that mission and those values; and
WHEREAS, demonstrations are inspiring institutions in Virginia and beyond to examine, and in many cases exorcise, symbols of systemic racism that have existed in plain sight for years; and
WHEREAS, we feel a responsibility to join that broader conversation and focus a high level of scrutiny on the names that adorn our facilities; and
WHEREAS, the State Board for Community Colleges has authority to determine the names of community colleges and college campuses; and
WHEREAS, the State Board has delegated authority to local college advisory boards to approve the names of on-campus facilities,
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the State Board ask the local advisory boards of each of our 23 colleges to review the appropriateness of its college, campus(es), and facilities names, and report back on or before the regularly scheduled March 2021 meeting of the State Board with facility name changes it has made and recommendations regarding college and campus names that should be changed by the State Board.