Duke announces members of committee set to review Carr Building's name

People's State of the University recently hosted a rally at the Carr Building on East Campus.
People's State of the University recently hosted a rally at the Carr Building on East Campus.

Gráinne Fitzsimons, professor of management and organizations in the Fuqua School of Business, will chair the committee tasked with reviewing the history department's proposal to change the Carr Building's name. 

"The commission and the administration worked hard to develop a set of fair procedures," Fitzsimons wrote in an email Thursday. "Our committee will do our best to work within the developed procedures and come to a thoughtful recommendation for the president on this important question."

The ad-hoc committee will be expected to send a recommendation to President Vincent Price by Nov. 15 about the building's name, Fitzsimons wrote. The Thursday news release explained the building is named for Julian S. Carr, "an early benefactor of Trinity College who was also an active promoter of white supremacy."

Fitzsimons was the vice chair of the Commission on Memory and History, which Price convened in the wake of the August 2017 removal of the Robert E. Lee statue from the Chapel steps. The commission was tasked with making a recommendation about the longterm use of that space, as well as laying the groundwork and outlining the processes for future considerations about sites of memory on Duke's campus. 

After the ad-hoc committee makes a recommendation, Price will review that recommendation and make any changes he prefers before presenting it to the Board of Trustees for a final decision.

The Carr Building's name is this process's first test. 

Also an associate professor of psychology and neuroscience, Fitzsimons will be joined by administrators and faculty, as well as students who have not yet been named, according to the release.

The faculty members on the committee include William Darity, Samuel DuBois Cook professor of public policy, and Sally D. Robinson, Woman's College '55 and trustee emerita and the only other holdover from the Commission on Memory and History. 

Robin Kirk, faculty co-chair of the Duke Human Rights Center, will also serve on the committee. Kirk was at the helm of an April Bass Connections report calling for the Carr Building's name to be changed. 

The building is named after Julian Carr, a "virulent white supremacist" who boasted about “horsewhipp[ing] a negro wench until her skirts hung in shreds” at the dedication of the Silent Sam statue. Carr donated Blackwell Park to Trinity College—which became Duke in 1924—an act that allowed the University to move to Durham on what is now East Campus. 

Kirk said history should still be acknowledged in some way. The report recommended that Duke preserve the record of the Carr Building and Aycock Hall's names in an educational exhibit in the buildings and "as part of a larger, permanent exhibit." 

The other members of the ad-hoc committee include Curtis Bradley, who is the William Van Alstyne professor of law and professor of public policy, as well as the co-director for the center for international and comparative law. Thavolia Glymph, professor of history and African and African American Studies, and Annabel Wharton, William B. Hamilton professor of art and art history, round out the faculty representation on the panel.

University archivist Valerie Gillispie and university archivist emeritus William King—Trinity '61, A.M. '63 and Ph.D. '70—are also part of the committee.

Ex-officio members of the committee include Michael Marsicano, Trinity '77, M.Ed. '78 and Ph.D. '82, Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations, and Executive Vice President Tallman Trask.

The committee's recommendation will be given to Price, Fitzsimons said. But whether the recommendation will be made public has not yet been announced.

"We will deliver our report to the President; I am unsure of his plans for the proposal," she wrote.

Bre Bradham contributed reporting. 

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Ben Leonard

Managing Editor 2018-19, 2019-2020 Features & Investigations Editor 

A member of the class of 2020 hailing from San Mateo, Calif., Ben is The Chronicle's Towerview Editor and Investigations Editor. Outside of the Chronicle, he is a public policy major working towards a journalism certificate, has interned at the Tampa Bay Times and NBC News and frequents Pitchforks. 


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