A Letter from the Names and Places Committee Co-chairs

 

Dear Sewanee Community,

We are writing to update you on some important work taking place at the University. The Board of Regents has established a committee to support their plan for evaluating the University’s past ties to the Confederacy and the ideology of white supremacy underlying it. This group, made up of faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community members, is called the Names and Places Committee.

The charge from the Board of Regents to the Names and Places Committee (NPC) is to evaluate every instance of a location on the Domain that is marked by a personal honorific to determine whether the contributions of that person to the University outweigh their association with actions or causes which are contrary to the articulated values of the University.

In terms of timeline, the NPC began its work together in August 2021, researching and educating ourselves on similar work that has been done by other institutions. After this research and education step, we will establish a skeletal framework of guiding principles to evaluate honorifics on the Domain. Next, we will gather input from several constituencies associated with the University to further develop the principles and process for evaluating honorifics. After we have developed a robust process for evaluation, we will examine each of the honorifics on the Domain and provide recommendations based on the process that we have developed. We plan to complete our work in June 2022, with our final report being submitted to the Board of Regents during their June meeting.

In the final report, the NPC will include recommendations for retaining or removing honorifics on the Domain. The final report must consist of two things:

  1. An explanation of the rationale by which the NPC evaluated the appropriateness of retaining the existing honorifics, which they applied to every place on the Domain, and
  2. A recommendation of whether or not to retain the honorific of each place on the Domain. 

The NPC is NOT TASKED with offering alternative honorifics to places that they recommend should be changed. It is noted that the Board of Regents have ultimate authority for naming, and renaming, all places on the Domain. 

As this work unfolds, the members of the NPC welcome your thoughts and we will provide multiple pathways for your input. One of the first ways to contact us is to send an email to the following email address: npc@sewanee.edu. In the coming weeks, we will be developing additional methods to communicate with the NPC. 

Sincerely, 

Rev. Dr. Gene B. Manning and Prof. Deon T. Miles
Co-chairs

Committee Members

The Names and Places Committee consists of 20 members drawn from across the extended Sewanee community. It is led by Co-Chairs Gene Manning and Deon Miles.

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