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 is now moving 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 is charged with researching and evaluating whether there is a compelling case to rename the Marvin Center. As part of its work, it will discuss six considerations, which are 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 is providing opportunities for members of the GW community to share feedback, and it will adhere to the protocols set forth in the Naming Task Force framework. When its work is complete, the committee will render to President LeBlanc a final report of the special committee’s evaluation. If a name change is recommended to the president, the committee is not charged with exploring or recommending alternative names.