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University System committee provides update on renaming buildings

By Anika Chaturvedi, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution #atlanta-ga

The University System of Georgia naming advisory committee discussed the research process for campus building names in its meeting on Wednesday, but won’t be changing any names this year.

Led by Marion Fedrick, group chairwoman and president of Albany State University, the meeting served as an update session .

Since June, the advisory group has finalized a list of 840 named buildings and 40 named colleges for review which were discussed with USG facilities personnel, Fedrick said. The group also interviewed historians to work on the project and selected two. The buildings and colleges being researched were not named.

After introduction by Fedrick, Lisa Tendrich Frank, lead historian, walked through the historians’ research process, including use of encyclopedias, journals, academic articles, and obituaries to understand who the buildings were named for and their roles in the community. The research will be compiled into summaries of each person similar to encyclopedia entries that create a unbiased view of each person for whom a building is named, Frank said.

Frank has a doctorate in history from the University of Florida and specializes in the history of the American South. She is working on the project with historian Joshua Butler and two research assistants, and has begun writing some of the summaries.

“We’re anticipating we’ll have at least half of the entries completed by the end of October, and then all the rest of the summaries should be completed by the first quarter of 2021,” Frank said.

The advisory group will present the Board of Regents its recommended names to change at the end of the process, Fedrick said.

The group was announced in June at the request of USG Board of Regents chairman Sachin Shailendra and chancellor Steve Wrigley.

A guest column published Wednesday in The Red & Black, the University of Georgia’s independent student newspaper, includes a letter signed by 300 alumni of the Foundation Fellows and Ramsey Scholar programs, two highly selective scholarship programs in UGA’s Honors College. The letter calls on university leaders to rename buildings and colleges “that honor the violent legacies of slavery and segregation.” The letter also includes a list of several buildings the alumni say should be renamed. The alumni groups will withhold their contributions to UGA if the changes are not made by the end of the current fall semester, the letter says.

In June, the student paper published a guest column calling for administrators to change the name of its journalism school, which is named after Henry Grady, a former managing editor of The Atlanta Constitution whose views were rooted in white supremacy.