Update on Naming Processes

President Thomas LeBlanc announces next steps in considering Colonials moniker, Marvin Center name.

July 20, 2020

To the George Washington University Community:

As the university recently announced, the Board of Trustees has approved a framework to guide our community in considering important matters of renaming on our campuses.  I want to thank the many students, faculty, staff, alumni, and trustees who contributed to creating this thoughtful and principled approach.

With this approved framework, we are now able to move forward with requests to examine renaming of GW buildings or memorials, as well as the Colonials moniker.  The Board’s Naming Task Force noted that the moniker “stood apart as an issue of great concern” and recommended that the process for addressing it begin immediately.

Consistent with the newly established framework, I have acknowledged the requests and documentation received to date from the Student Association related to the moniker.  We are now working to form a diverse and representative group of GW community members who will serve on a Special Committee on the Colonials Moniker, to include student, faculty, staff, and alumni representation, that will assess the renaming request based on the specific considerations established by the Board.  I am pleased that Mary Cheh, the Elyce Zenoff Research Professor of Law, has agreed to serve as chair of the committee.

In addition to the moniker, I also recognize that many members of our community have long expressed concern about the name of the Marvin Center.  After consultation with the leadership of the Faculty Senate, the Student Association, the Alumni Association, and the academic deans, we are moving forward expeditiously to establish a separate Special Committee on the Marvin Center that will use the Board’s building name framework to develop a recommendation.  I am pleased that Roger Fairfax, the Patricia Roberts Harris Research Professor of Law, has agreed to serve as chair of this committee.

I want to emphasize that while establishing these committees is an important part of the process to consider renaming requests, it does not indicate that we are presupposing a specific outcome.  The framework from the Board encompasses principles, procedures, and considerations to employ in reviewing all requests, and it includes an expectation that we offer many opportunities to hear university community feedback.

We will provide additional information on the special committee membership, charges, and mechanisms for GW community feedback on each of these processes in the coming weeks.

Finally, I also note that, in addition to the Colonials and Marvin Center requests, we have begun to receive requests proposing the renaming of other campus buildings.  These and future requests will be documented on the Name Change Request Registry and their consideration will follow the Board’s approved framework.

As we undertake this work, we remain committed to addressing all renaming requests comprehensively and collaboratively, and I look forward to our discussions together.


Thomas J LeBlanc

Thomas J. LeBlanc