Princeton University Renames Campus Buildings In Honor of Black Nobel Laureates Toni Morrison, Sir Arthur Lewis

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Toni Morisson (left) and Sir Arthur Lewis will both have buildings renamed in their honor at Princeton University.

Princeton University is looking to honor those who’ve brought “a more diverse presence” to its campus in a big way.

The prestigious school announced plans on Tuesday, April 18, to rename two campus buildings in honor of Black Nobel laureates and faculty members, NJ.com reported.

The honorees include celebrated author Toni Morrison, whose name will now appear on the residence college formerly known as West College. Morrison, who is the first Black woman to win a Nobel Prize for literature, taught humanities and African-American studies courses at Princeton in the 1990s and is now a professor emerita, according to the university’s website.

The Dodds Auditorium, which bears the name of a former white president of the university, will be renamed in honor of Sir Arthur Lewis, a former faculty member (1963-1983), economist and Nobel laureate.

Lewis “is an example of someone who brought distinction and diversity to this campus over many years, but whose accomplishments and impact are not known to succeeding generations of Princetonians,” the university said in a statement.

The renamings were the result of suggestions pitched by the Council of the Princeton University Community Committee on Naming, which is comprised of faculty, students, staff and alumni. The committee, launched in the fall of 2016, was created to aid trustees in the naming of “buildings or other spaces not already named for historical figures or donors to recognize individuals who would bring a more diverse presence to the campus.”

According to the university, over 210 people submitted suggestions through a website that provided background information on the two spaces the trustees asked the committee to consider.

The changes follow a year of increased tensions over the school’s racial history and the racist legacy of Woodrow Wilson, a former president of the university. The 2015 school year was marked with student-led protests demanding that Princeton remove Wilson’s name from campus. The university ultimately chose to keep the former president’s name but opted to take down a photo of him in the campus dining hall, NJ.com reported.

Princeton’s move to rename two campus buildings in honor of Black scholars is its latest effort to atone for its dark racial past.

“By taking these steps we begin to recognize more completely the extraordinary range of individuals and groups that have made this University what it is today,” Princeton University President Christopher Eisgruber said in a statement.

The new names will take effect on July 1.

 

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