Today I’m excited to announce more details about the Committee to Establish Principles on Renaming that was initially communicated in my letter on Sept. 22.

With representation from students, faculty, staff, trustees and alumni (faculty representation selected by the Committee on Faculty Nominations and Elections), the following individuals have agreed to serve on the committee:

  • Professor Gregory Sisk, School of Law (co-chair)
  • Professor Yohuru Williams, Racial Justice Initiative (co-chair)
  • Judge Wilhelmina (Mimi) Wright, U.S. District Court (trustee)
  • Amy Goldman, Chairman and Executive Director, GHR Foundation (trustee)
  • Professor David Williard, History
  • Professor Bernie Brady, Theology
  • Professor Jayne Sommers, School of Education
  • Joe Plante ’86, AVP, University Advancement
  • Danielle Hermanny, Title IX Coordinator, Office of the President
  • MayKao Y. Hang, VP Strategic Initiatives, Founding Dean of the Morrison Family College of Health
  • Viridiana Martinez ’21
  • Jesse Addo ’17, ’22 J.D.
  • Ann Kenne, Archivist (non-voting)
  • Erica Oswald, Administrative support (non-voting)

Purpose

The charge of the committee is:

To articulate a set of principles that can guide the University of St. Thomas in decisions about whether to remove a historical name from a building or other prominent structure or space on campus and/or take other related actions to address the naming.

Such principles should not be specific to particular renaming questions. Rather, the principles should endure for years to come and be broad and complete enough to apply to a range of future renaming considerations.

Process

It is expected that the committee will review relevant scholarship on the history and theory of naming and renaming. It also is expected that the committee will consider institutions and communities that have addressed renaming decisions and review their experiences, decisions and the rationale and principles that led to those decisions. The committee may consult with experts inside and outside of our community. It also is expected that the committee will provide opportunities for members of the St. Thomas community to share their views about the principles that ought to apply to renaming decisions and other related actions. Finally, the committee will recommend administrative procedures for how future renaming questions can be presented for review and application of the established principles.

Timing

The committee will submit its report to me and the Board of Trustees of the University of St. Thomas for approval. The committee’s work will begin in November and conclude sometime during the spring semester.

Application of the Principles

Once renaming principles and procedures have been established, a separate committee or group of advisers with relevant knowledge and expertise will be appointed to consider renaming proposals and make a recommendation on renaming and/or other actions based on the application of the principles. That recommendation will then be submitted to me and the Board of Trustees for approval. The first of these proposals to be considered will be Loras Hall.

As was reinforced in our recent information session on Bishop Loras recapped here, understanding and acknowledging our history will be part of our decision-making process along with clear transparency about our present values.

I hope you join me in congratulating the members of this new committee and thanking them for their service to St. Thomas. As important decisions are reached, I will continue to communicate them to you.

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