Message from Grace Speights

November 27, 2019

To the George Washington University Community:

In recent years, there has been a national debate related to acknowledging and confronting history. Institutions of higher education have led the charge in these areas as they have considered renaming buildings, facilities, and other public spaces. 

GW has its own history that we must explore, and we need a framework in place to be able to advance these discussions. As part of its governance responsibilities, the Board of Trustees will lead an inclusive and collaborative process to create that framework.

Today, the Board is launching the Task Force on Naming, charged with four objectives:

  • Determining under what circumstances a request to change a name should be considered.
  • Creating the principles that will guide the board and university administration in determining whether to change a name.
  • Developing the procedures through which name changes will be considered.
  • Creating the principles that will guide the board and university administration in determining the names of new building, facilities, and other public spaces.

I want to be clear that the task force will not consider specific requests for name changes. Its charge is limited to recommending the principles and procedures for addressing name change requests. This is a requisite first step to determining when and whether requests for name changes should be considered and in making any renaming decisions.

Trustee Mark Chichester has agreed to serve as chair of the task force, which comprises a diverse group of faculty, staff, students, alumni and trustees. The full membership is included below.

The task force will prepare draft recommendations in response to its charge and submit them for the Board of Trustees’ review by the end of this academic year. Over the coming months, the task force will meet regularly and provide opportunities for community input.

You will receive more information about these feedback opportunities soon. I invite you to take advantage of them and be involved in this process as we move forward together.


Grace E. Speights
Chair, Board of Trustees

Task Force on Naming Membership:

  • Gabbi Baker (Trustee)
  • Denver Brunsman (Associate Professor, Department of History)
  • Patricia Carocci (Associate Vice President of Development, Alumni Relations)
  • Mark Chichester (Trustee, Chair of the Task Force)
  • Robert Cottrol (Harold Paul Green Research Professor of Law)
  • Allan From (Emeritus Trustee)
  • André Gonzales (Student)
  • Vincent Gray (Alumnus; D.C. Council Member)
  • Todd Klein (Trustee)
  • Caroline Laguerre-Brown (Vice Provost for Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement)
  • Thomas LeBlanc (President; ex officio)
  • Michelle Rubin (Alumna)
  • Shelby Singleton (Student)
  • Grace Speights (Chair of the Board of Trustees; ex officio)
  • Camila Tapias (Graduate Student)
  • Elizabeth Tuckwiller (Associate Professor, Special Education and Disability Studies Department)
  • Lorraine Voles (Vice President for External Relations)
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