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University of Richmond board to resume talks on renaming buildings

University of Richmond confirms evidence of slave burial site on campus
Posted at 4:08 PM, Apr 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-13 16:09:15-04

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The board of trustees at the University of Richmond says it will reset its review of the controversial names of two campus buildings, while faculty members seek the resignation of a board member for comments he made during a meeting.

After earlier saying the names would not be changed, the board said Monday that it would form a commission to establish principles on renaming, ensuring what it called a “fresh start," the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

The announcement came two hours before the faculty senate announced it had ratified a vote of no-confidence in the board’s top member, rector Paul Queally, and called for his resignation. Queally was censured by the faculty senate for comments during a meeting in which seven members of the faculty said he referred to students as Black, Brown and “regular students.” Also, a Black employee said she was interrupted and demeaned by Queally.

The vote from the faculty is symbolic and will have no effect on university leadership. The board can remove its own members if their actions may negatively reflect on the university, the faculty’s motion said.

A university spokeswoman said Queally would have no comment Monday night, and school officials did not immediately respond Tuesday to an email seeking comment.

The university announced in February that it would not change the names of two buildings.

A dorm was named for Douglas Southall Freeman, a university trustee and rector from 1925 to 1950. He had supported segregation, white supremacy, and eugenics.

The university had changed the building’s name earlier this year to Mitchell-Freeman Hall.

It added the name of John Mitchell Jr., a former enslaved man who became editor of the Richmond Planet newspaper.

Another building is named for Robert Ryland. He was instrumental in founding what is now the University of Richmond and was the school’s first president. He owned at least seven slaves.

The board’s decision followed complaints from students and faculty.

Virginia Commonwealth University, Virginia State University, and James Madison University are among the Virginia schools that have changed building names associated with the Confederacy, slavery, or segregation in the past year. VCU formed a group to study its building names two years before its board of visitors voted on changes.