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. 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 campus buildings, including the Marvin Center. In July 2020, after consultation with faculty, students, alumni and academic leadership, GW President Thomas LeBlanc established the Special Committee on the Marvin Center Name and named Roger Fairfax, Patricia Roberts Harris Research Professor of Law, as its chair.
The committee was charged with researching and evaluating whether there was a compelling case to rename the Marvin Center. As part of its work, it discussed six considerations, which were accompanied by detailed guidance in the board’s framework:
1. The prevalence and persistence of the namesake’s repugnant behavior.
2. The harm caused by the namesake’s behavior.
3. Strength and clarity of the historical evidence.
4. The namesake’s relationship to the university.
5. The university’s earlier consideration of the appropriateness of the name.
6. Opportunity for education.
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. The committee rendered to President LeBlanc a final report of its evaluation and recommended changing the name. In June 2021, the Board of Trustees approved changing the name of the Marvin Center, and the building will now be referred to as the University Student Center.