After years of controversy, Yale University will rename Calhoun College, an undergraduate residence named for Yale alumnus and former U.S. Vice President John C. Calhoun.
The renaming came as a complete reversal from an announcement made by the university last spring, when it declared that it would not acquiesce to remove Calhoun's name.
The decision on the residence hall name was approved Friday by the Yale Board of Trustees, known formally as the Yale Corporation. Yale President Peter Salovey told reporters that Hopper was an appropriate choice given her prescience for the role technology would play in every day life.
The change reverses a previous commitment in April to retain the name despite decades of student concern and recent protests over Calhoun's pro-slavery legacy.
The Yale University college named after a white supremacist, John Calhoun, will be renamed following ongoing protests from students and faculty, announced university administrators on Saturday.
He added that, "i$3 n making this change, we must be vigilant not to erase the past".
"When we ask students to organize intramural teams around a name and to wear a name on their T-shirts to cheer it, I think it becomes a different kind of thing", Witt said. Renaming will only be done, he continued, in "exceptional circumstances and it's going to have to be only even considered when the principle legacy of a person is at odds with our values... their legacy now, their legacy at the time of the naming and whether their views were contested in their own time".
In February, Yale University began to mull over whether to change the name of Calhoun College, the decision having to be made by Yale's governing body, the Yale Corporation. The decision led to protests and considerable condemnation.
In an online essay Saturday in The New York Times, Yale senior Tobias Holden, a black Calhoun descendant, said it's wrong to treat Calhoun as a benign symbol of history. However, Calhoun's pro-slavery legacy opposes the mission and principles of the university, Salovey explained.
Last April, the school had chose to retain Calhoun's name despite many protests; however, after a special task force "charged with applying broad renaming principles" recommended changing the College's moniker, the Yale Corporation - which has the ultimate say on such matters - agreed. But a committee subsequently formed to study the debate found otherwise, saying Calhoun College presents "an exceptionally strong case" because its namesake clashes with university values.
Hopper was a computer scientist and Navy rear admiral who graduated with a master's degree and a doctorate from Yale University. She was a collaborator in the earliest computers.
A rear gate at Calhoun College.
Grace Hopper retired as a rear admiral at the age of 79, the oldest serving officer in the USA armed forces at the time. Grace Hopper pioneered the development of word-based computer languages, and she was instrumental in developing COBOL, the most widely used computer language in the world by the 1970's. Last year she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, 24 years after her death.