By Cady Inabinett
The university announced the formation of a new working group focusing on campus building names. The group, led by members of the Board of Trustees, is expected to review criteria for selecting namesakes for buildings located on Montevallo’s campus. The formation of this group comes following the Board of Trustees’ decision to remove the names of Comer and Bibb Graves halls in fall 2020, as well as a year of heightened awareness of and backlash against white supremacy due largely to the Black Lives Matter movement—a period university president Dr. John Stewart describes as a “very profound moment” in time.
The working group, anounced June 4, is comprised of 13 members, including Board of Trustees member LeRoy Nix as chair of the working group, SGA president Anakate Andrasko and Faculty Senate president Emily Gill, appointed by Stewart.
Stewart described his selection process for group members as a way to provide broad representation and perspectives from “across campus” into the discussion, adding that he consulted with Board of Trustees chair Todd Strange during the selection process.
He described the group as, “really thoughtful,” and praised their willingness to have reflective conversations about naming processes.
Stewart did not indicate that the group would strictly focus on renaming Comer and Bibb Graves, temporarily known as Humanities Hall and Old Gym, saying, “The committee can take up whatever they want,” but adding that the goal is to, “look ahead more than in the past.”
According to Stewart, the process of looking ahead could include, “presenting overarching recommendations” on how to name future campus buildings by developing a framework for future naming processes. He went on to say, “How we name buildings and space will say a lot about us as an institution in the future,”
The formation of this working group comes after the Board of Trustees voted to remove the names of Comer and Bibb Graves Halls in fall 2020 due to their namesakes’ being former Alabama governors who held white supremacist views such as upholding segregation. This decision arose following recommendations made by a Board of Trustees working group, similar to the one recently announced by the university.
Stewart spoke further on the timing of the formation of the group, saying that the Board of Trustees was, “very clear from the beginning that they wanted to have a very thoughtful and deliberate process.” He highlighted the work done by the first working group last fall, saying that the Board of Trustees did not want to rush into forming another group to examine building renaming, but instead wanted to, “let the work of the first group percolate.”
Stewart explained the work done by this working group will help to “honor the commitment” made by the first group.