- The Washington Times - Monday, September 28, 2020

Officials at Indiana University are removing the name of a former school president from a building, river and a street after renewed criticism over his role in promoting eugenics.

A leading marine biologist and eugenicist of the late 19th and early 20 centuries, David Starr Jordan was the seventh president of Indiana University and founding president of Stanford University. But his name no longer will appear on the Indiana campus, after university President Michael McRobbie announced last week that the school has stripped his name from several landmarks.

The move highlights just one way colleges are addressing racial reconciliation this fall, after a summer of protest sparked by George Floyd’s death in police custody in Minneapolis.

“As the Jordan Committee’s exhaustive report indicates, David Starr Jordan was a complex and complicated figure,” Mr. McRobbie wrote last week. “But he was also at the forefront of the American eugenics movement, and some of the beliefs he espoused in his writings, especially those concerning people he regarded as unworthy or undesirable, make for extremely troubling reading.”

Name changes present the quickest — and, critics say, most superficial — remedy for college officials.

Earlier this month, the University of Alabama Board of Trustees voted unanimously to drop the name of John Tyler Morgan, a former senator and ardent racist, from a campus building. Michigan State University’s president also announced that an office building named for former education leader Stephen Nisbet, who also was a member of the Ku Klux Klan, will be renamed.

But it’s not the only action universities are taking. After Princeton University capitulated to a renewed request from students to drop former President Woodrow Wilson’s name on its School of Public and International Affairs, students and some faculty demanded more, including adopting an “antiracist” curricula and demanding the hiring of Black faculty.

Earlier this month, Princeton President Christopher L. Eisgruber announced the school’s intention to boost the number of scholars from “underrepresented groups,” publish an annual diversity report, and increase pay for employees in “lower-paid positions.”

“Much of this work is unglamorous, focused not on flashy symbols but on the nuts and bolts of University management,” Mr. Eisgruber wrote.

Not everyone agrees the college needs to change. The Department of Education announced an investigation into Princeton University for potentially violating federal anti-discrimination law after Mr. Eisgruber’s repeated statements to fight racism on campus. More than 80 college presidents have since signed a letter asking federal attorneys to end what they term an “outrageous” investigation.

Nevertheless, vows to fight systemic racism are growing across campuses.

In July, Boston University touted the hiring of Ibram X. Kendi, author of the bestselling “How to Be an Antiracist,” to lead its new Center for Antiracist Research. Last week, Rutgers University President Jonathan Holloway announced a new $15 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to establish an institute dedicated to “global racial justice,” after having said this summer that he would not change the university’s name. (Henry Rutgers, the school’s namesake, was a Revolutionary War hero who owned slaves.)

“The nation is at a tipping point with respect to racial and social justice,” said Mr. Holloway, the school’s first Black president.

And at the University of Wyoming, where Black students represent just over 1% of the student body, campus officials will host a town hall on racism Tuesday, opening a conversation based on Robin DiAngelo’s book “White Fragility.”

“I hope the town hall discussion will supersede the common mainstream conversations surrounding white fragility and challenge those systemic pillars that persist, particularly here at UW, which uphold and further white privilege,” said Fredrick Douglass Dixon, founding director of the Black Studies Center in Laramie.

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