The University of South Carolina’s Presidential Commission on University History announced July 16 it had issued its more than 300-page final report, which details history and legacies of some of the individuals who shaped the institution since its founding in 1801.
The commission is composed of more than 30 scholars, university officials and community leaders. It was created in 2019 to explore the university’s history and to make recommendations that may guide how a more complete story of the university can be told to future generations.
“Each of us will view the report through our own lived experience and will interpret the recommendations through that lens,” said UofSC president Harris Pastides in an email to the college’s students, faculty and staff. “The Commission has provided us with greater insight into our university’s complex history, including painful chapters that we cannot ignore. By learning our history, and grappling with its complexity, we can create a more inclusive and better future for all of us.”
The report also includes an examination of 13 individuals, all of whom have buildings, rooms or landscapes on the Columbia campus named after them. In addition, it details both the contributions made by these individuals as well as any advocacy for institutional slavery and racial segregation.
The commission’s final report recommends changing 10 of the 13 names it examined. The buildings, landscapes and rooms include:
- Barnwell College
- Blatt PE Center
- Gressette Room in Harper College
- Marion Sims – UofSC previously recommended changing the residence hall’s name
- Longstreet Theater
- Preston Residential College
- Robert E. Lee Tree
- Strom Thurmond Wellness and Fitness Center
- Thomas Cooper Library
- Thornwell College
- Wade Hampton College
The commission was against changing the names of Hollings Library, Lieber College and Maxcy College. It also included the names of 16 African Americans who may be considered for future naming opportunities. These names are:
- Robert G. Anderson
- Luther J. Battiste III
- James E. Clyburn
- Matilda Evans
- Ernest A. Finney Jr.
- Willie Lloyd Harriford Jr.
- Henrie Monteith
- Edna Smith Primus
- Rollin sisters
- Celia Dial Saxon
- Robert Smalls
- James L. Solomon Jr.
- McCants Stewart
- Alonzo Townsend
- Harry Walker
- William James Whipper
In addition to name changes, the commission recommended a series of educational initiatives to better tell the history of the university such as adding an interactive map so that visitors can connect to different historical figures, subjects and events by clicking on different buildings or sections of campus, and incorporating and updating study of the university’s history into the University 101 course.
The commission’s other recommendations included an $11 million investment in diversity, equity and inclusion infrastructure over the next five years, walking and virtual tours, and the addition of signage to existing buildings to better contextualize their histories.
The university also announced its board of trustees will consider new criteria by which future buildings can be named after prominent individuals.
To read the complete report, click here.