Yale's Calhoun College was named for the South Carolina politician John C Calhoun, a Yale alum and notorious enslaver and advocate of slavery; this was, understandably, controversial.
After years of wrangling and public pressure, Yale has renamed the college for Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, "a trailblazing computer scientist, brilliant mathematician and teacher, and dedicated public servant" who is also a Yale alumnus.
Yale's administration initially resisted calls to change the name, saying it would obscure the university's legacy. Many other universities with colleges and buildings named after white supremacists and secessionist traitors had long since renamed them.
Salovey made the decision with the university’s board of trustees — the Yale Corporation — at its most recent meeting. “The decision to change a college’s name is not one we take lightly, but John C. Calhoun’s legacy as a white supremacist and a national leader who passionately promoted slavery as a ‘positive good’ fundamentally conflicts with Yale’s mission and values,” Salovey said. “I have asked Jonathan Holloway, dean of Yale College, and Julia Adams, the head of Calhoun College, to determine when this change best can be put into effect.”
This decision overrides Salovey’s announcement in April of last year that the name of Calhoun College would remain. “At that time, as now, I was committed to confronting, not erasing, our history. I was concerned about inviting a series of name changes that would obscure Yale’s past,” said Salovey. “These concerns remain paramount, but we have since established an enduring set of principles that address them. The principles establish a strong presumption against renaming buildings, ensure respect for our past, and enable thoughtful review of any future requests for change.”
In August, Salovey asked John Witt ’94 B.A., ’99 J.D., ’00 Ph.D., the Allen H. Duffy Class of 1960 Professor of Law and professor of history, to chair a Committee to Establish Principles on Renaming. After this committee completed its work, three advisers — G. Leonard Baker ’64 B.A. (Calhoun College); John Lewis Gaddis, the Robert A. Lovett Professor of Military and Naval History; and Jacqueline Goldsby, professor of English, African American Studies, and American Studies and chair of the Department of African American Studies — were charged with applying the Witt committee’s principles to the name of Calhoun College. The thoughtful and instructive reports produced by these two distinguished groups are available here: http://president.yale.edu/decision-name-calhoun-college.