About the Special Committee on the Colonials Moniker

In June 2020, the George Washington University Board of Trustees approved a framework of principles, procedures and considerations for addressing the proposed renaming of on-campus buildings and memorials as well as the Colonials moniker. The decision endorsed the work of a board-appointed Naming Task Force that had engaged in a broad outreach effort with the university community to recommend the approach.

Consistent with the approved framework, the university moved forward with requests to examine the renaming of the Colonials moniker. In July 2020, after consultation with faculty, students, alumni and academic leadership, GW President Emeritus Thomas LeBlanc established the Special Committee on the Colonials Moniker and named Mary Cheh, Elyce Zenoff Research Professor of Law, as its chair.

The committee was charged with researching and evaluating whether there was a compelling case to rename the Colonials moniker.  As part of its work, it discussed six considerations, which were accompanied by detailed guidance in the board’s framework:

1. The use of the term “Colonials” in historical context.
2. The history and process behind the initial selection of the moniker.
3. The connection of the moniker to the university and/or its namesake.
4. The depth and breadth of offense or harm caused by use of the moniker.
5. The affinity for and prominence of the moniker as found on or associated with structures, events, athletic uniforms, traditions and the like.
6. The legal and financial implications of changing the moniker.


During the committee’s review process, it provided opportunities for members of the GW community to share feedback, and it adhered to the protocols set forth in the Naming Task Force framework.  When its work was completed, the committee provided to the President a final report of the special committee’s evaluation. The board subsequently accepted the special committee's recommendation to discontinue the use of the Colonials moniker.