University of Minnesota Regents adopt resolutions highlighting complex institutional history

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During a special University of Minnesota Board of Regents meeting today, Regents took action related to historic building names. The Board acknowledged the University’s history of discrimination, but declined the President’s recommendation to rename several buildings. The Board also directed the administration to develop ongoing commemorations, educational activities or displays in one or more of these buildings to reflect the institution’s complex history.

Coffman Memorial Union and Middlebrook, Nicholson and Coffey Halls will maintain their current identities. The Board initially discussed in March a proposal to rename the four buildings that followed research into the buildings’ namesakes by a University task force and engagement from student leadership and others.

In a separate vote, the Board advanced a resolution that directs University leadership to consider and recommend future system-wide commemorations, educational activities, displays and other efforts that foster inclusion. The resolution also charges the administration to recommend revisions to Board of Regents policy on building names in order to establish clear principles and procedures to guide future renaming and naming discussions.

“The task force report and the work that preceded it sparked a debate about the purpose of honorary namings and about recognizing our University’s nearly 170-year history – some of it very challenging,” said Regent Dean Johnson, who chaired today’s meeting in Regent David McMillan’s absence. “The thought-provoking, high-quality work of the task force, combined with differing opinions on how to view historical information, have led us to this important decision point.

“One thing is clear: the University must accept responsibility for any part in sowing division by race and religion in the past. We cannot avoid the judgment the institution’s history requires. But we also must move forward in ways that advance our learning about the past and make us a better, more inclusive institution in the future. Our action today is just beginning of this work,” Johnson said.

To read the Board’s resolutions, go to regents.umn.edu.

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University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
04/30/2019