Duke is forming a new commission to review controversial names of facilities and buildings on campus and recommend next steps for the entrance of Duke Chapel.
In an email announcing the members of the commission to Duke students and staff Friday morning, President Vincent Price said the Commission on Memory and History will help the campus engage in a broader conversation about its history and inclusion.
"Every member of the Duke community deserves a voice in this vitally important conversation, and the students, alumni, faculty and staff with whom I have spoken in the past few days hold a diversity of views about the best way forward for the University," Price wrote. "At Duke, we have the courage and integrity to engage productively around our disagreements without resorting to incivility or vandalism, instead finding collective strength in open-minded participation and mutual respect."
The 16-member commission includes administrators, professors, trustees and students and will be chaired by Frank Emory Jr., trustee emeritus. Other members include Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations, Luke Powery, dean of Duke Chapel, and Michael Ivory Jr., president of the Black Student Alliance.
Price said students can offer their input to the commission online. He said he has asked the commission to complete its work Nov. 17.
The announcement came almost three weeks after Price decided to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from the entrance of Duke Chapel. Here is full list of the members:
- Frank Emory, Jr., chair, trustee emeritus
- Gráinne Fitzsimons, vice chair, professor at the Fuqua School of Business
- Thomas Pfau, Alice Mary Baldwin professor of English
- William Ferris, professor of history
- Michael Ivory, Jr., a senior and president of Black Student Alliance
- Luke Powery, dean of Duke Chapel
- David Levi, dean of the Law School
- Adriane Lentz-Smith, professor of history
- W. Barker French, former president of the Duke Alumni Association
- Elizabeth Kiss, Duke University trustee
- Robert Penn, Duke University trustee
- Wilhelmin M. Reuben-Cooke, trustee emerita
- Sally Robinson, trustee emerita
- Jacqueline Robinson-Hamm, Ph.D. candidate in biomedical engineering
- Michael J. Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations
- Charles Smith, trustee emeritus
It remains unclear which building names will be reviewed. But Price's announcement elicited different reactions from students.
Sophomore Patrick Botros said he supported the committee's creation, but expressed concerns about changing the names of buildings.
"I think it's important [Price] is getting out in front of these issues before they become a campus-wide protest and dealing with the history of the institution instead of covering it up," Botros said. "Although I suppose you could say it's covering it up if you change the name [of a building]."
Sophomore Olivia Lee said she does not believe that Duke should glorify Confederate generals and praised the creation of a commission, noting that the University still has questions to confront after the statue's removal.
"I hope that the commission is a balanced place of ideas for both sides of the issue." Lee said. "I agree with President Price's decision to take down the Robert E. Lee statue, but I do think we can't forget it. I think it's really important that we maintain not monuments, but museums, and I think it's really important that we remember the history instead of embracing it."
Editor's note: A previous version of this article seemed to imply that because former President John Kilgo gave a positive speech about Robert E. Lee that the name of Kilgo quad would potentially be up for debate. Because that was somewhat misleading, the current version of this article does not have that information. This article was updated at 11:45 p.m. Sunday to include student reactions. Nathan Luzum contributed reported.