By Cady Inabinett, News editor
The University of Montevallo on Main will be renamed to Dr. Wilson Fallin Hall in the near future, in honor of university alumnus and former professor Dr. Wilson Fallin, Jr. This change comes after the university’s Board of Trustees voted to approve the new name at their Feb. 18 meeting.
Fallin has deep ties to both the university as well as the civil rights movement, as highlighted by the Board of Trustees’ naming working group. During his time as an undergraduate student at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Fallin was introduced to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who was a part-time professor at the college. Fallin began attending King’s lectures at the college, as well as King’s church. King and Fallin also both participated in a student march in downtown Atlanta advocating for the hiring of Black employees, and, in 1968, King asked Fallin and his church to the Poor People’s Campaign wagon train.
Fallin would remain connected to the civil rights movement as a historian, as well. He was an original board member of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and received recognition from the Birmingham Baptist Minister’s Conference in 1998 for his historical scholarship.
Fallin is a Montevallo alumnus, earning a Master of Arts degree from the university in 1989. In addition to this degree, he also holds a Master of Divinity degree from Rochester Divinity School and a Ph.D. in history from the University of Alabama. Fallin was the first Black person to receive a history doctoral degree at the University of Alabama.
Fallin would go on to teach at Montevallo for 28 years. During his time at the university, he served as a history professor, as well as Director of Minority Affairs from 1998-1999. Fallin was also recognized as Montevallo’s University Scholar for the 1998-1999 school year and received the Distinguished Alumnus Behavioral and Social Sciences Award in 2018.
Vice President of Advancement and External Affairs and member of the naming working group Scott Dillard, said, “One of the goals of the committee was to identify people of color who were worthy of recognizing for their achievements for UM.”
“I know the committee felt strongly about his lengthy career at UM,” said Dillard.
University archivist, special collections librarian and member of the naming working group Carey Heatherly spoke to the significance of the name change, saying, “I don’t get the sense there is a great attachment to the University of Montevallo on Main (UMOM) on campus. That building name was a tool to distinguish it and its location on campus. Paired with Dr. Fallin’s career within the Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences, I think the renaming is appropriate and is a chance to honor one of our own.”
Dr. Gregory Samuels, the university’s Chief Diversity and Inclusion officer, highlighted the accomplishments of Fallin saying, “All that is spoken about Dr. Wilson Fallin, Jr. is true. He did so in a time and within spaces that were segregated, wreaked of oppression and racial violence, and challenged those who dared to fight these societal norms. Yet, he did so while obtaining multiple degrees, leading congregations and community members into safe spaces through spirituality, establishing a publication record, and raising a beautiful and resilient family.”
“As a recently-retired Professor Emeritus of History and UM Diversity Officer, his positive relationships with faculty, staff, students, and community members of all backgrounds illustrates his love for diversity and equity in every space he moves through,” Samuels remarked, “He is a true humanitarian!”
Samuels also pointed out, “He will be the first African American to have a building named in his honor which is historic in itself.”
As of now it is unclear when the name change will take effect, but Dillard said, “We are finalizing a date and looking for some time in May, 2022.”
Cady Inabinett is the editor in chief of The Alabamian. She’s majoring in English and double-minoring in political science and peace and justice studies. She enjoys reading, watching movies, caring for houseplants and generally just being pretentious in her free time.