Georgia university system to review names of buildings and colleges

University System of Georgia Chancellor Steve Wrigley.

Georgia’s public university system will consider whether the names of any buildings and colleges at its campuses should be changed, system Chancellor Steve Wrigley’s office announced Wednesday evening.

He and Board of Regents Chairman Sachin Shailendra asked an advisory group “to review and study the names” then report “on any recommended changes,” a statement from Wrigley’s office said.

There was no explanation of what spurred the review.

The prepared statement quoted Shailendra as saying it is important to the Regents that the University System of Georgia “represents the very best of our state and 333,000 students who are working to attain their degrees from our colleges and universities across the state.”

column this month in the University of Georgia student newspaper, The Red & Black, urged UGA to rid its journalism school of the Henry Grady name.

“I don’t want a degree I’m proud of earning to be associated with a dead racist,” wrote the guest columnist, a recent graduate of UGA’s College of Journalism and Mass Communication. “And neither does anyone else who values what is taught at the school.”

Grady, an Athens native, was an acclaimed orator and journalist whose views were steeped in white supremacy. Prior calls to disqualify his name for use with major institutions went nowhere, but the recent national protests of police violence against black people have stoked those demands.

Born in 1850, Grady graduated from UGA and went on to become managing editor of The Atlanta Constitution. His father served as a major in the Confederate army, dying in 1864 from injuries sustained in Petersburg, Virginia.

The university system did not immediately respond to an emailed question about whether the protests and calls to remove Grady’s name played a role in the decision to appoint the naming advisory group.

Albany State University President Marion Fedrick will lead the review. Other members of the group include Michael Patrick of Chick-fil-A; retired state appeals court Judge Herbert Phipps; attorney Neal J. Quirk, an executive with the University of Georgia Foundation; and Sally Wallace, dean of the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University.

Wrigley says in the statement that the review “is a step toward addressing how communities understand the history and context involving our campuses” and “is essential to advance how we serve students and all  Georgians.”

Once completed, the panel’s recommendations will be released to the public, the statement says.

Stay with ajc.com for more on this developing story.

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