Yale University drops slavery proponent Calhoun from college name

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New Haven | Published: February 12, 2017 4:54:45 AM

The Ivy League university said it is renaming Calhoun College after trailblazing computer scientist Grace Murray Hopper, a mathematician who earned Yale degrees in the 1930s, invented a pioneering computer programming language and became a Navy rear admiral.

After years of debate, the trustees of Yale University announced today they will change the name of a residential college that honors a 19th century alumnus who was an ardent supporter of slavery. (Reuters)After years of debate, the trustees of Yale University announced today they will change the name of a residential college that honors a 19th century alumnus who was an ardent supporter of slavery. (Reuters)

After years of debate, the trustees of Yale University announced today they will change the name of a residential college that honors a 19th century alumnus who was an ardent supporter of slavery. The Ivy League university said it is renaming Calhoun College after trailblazing computer scientist Grace Murray Hopper, a mathematician who earned Yale degrees in the 1930s, invented a pioneering computer programming language and became a Navy rear admiral. Yale said it was the final decision on a controversy over former Vice President John C. Calhoun’s legacy that had simmered for years and boiled over with campus protests in 2015. Four people were arrested in a peaceful protest as recent as Friday after they blocked street traffic.

The university’s president, Peter Salovey, announced in April that the school would keep Calhoun’s name. But, in August, he appointed an advisory panel to consider whether the name should be changed after all.
“We have a strong presumption against renaming buildings on this campus,” Salovey said Saturday. “I have been concerned all along and remain concerned that we don’t do things that erase history. So renamings are going to be exceptional.” The board of trustees made its decision to rename the college Friday. Salovey, who sits on the board, said this was an exceptional case because Calhoun’s principal legacy is at odds with the university’s values and mission, and his views were contested in his own time. Calhoun was a member of the Yale class of 1804, who was a vice president, senator from South Carolina and a leading voice for those opposed to abolishing slavery.

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