IN JUNE, Shenandoah University in Winchester, Virginia, announced it would remove the name of Harry F. Byrd Jr. from its School of Business after a unanimous vote from the university’s board of trustees.
The name was bestowed on the school in 1984 to honor Byrd, a former state and U.S. senator who went on to become a lecturer at Shenandoah. During the 1950s, Byrd led Virginia’s Massive Resistance strategy to create new state laws and policies that would prevent public school desegregation. He died in 2013.
“The board and I understand that we cannot be an institution that serves all students equitably when our business school still holds the name of an individual who denied full integration of schools,” says university president Tracy Fitzsimmons. “Although we cannot change history, we have the power to build a better future in which everyone is treated with respect and receives the same opportunities, regardless of race or ethnicity. It is during this time in our national history, in which black individuals continue to experience daily and systemic acts of racism, that we must stand up and act swiftly in
In addition to removing Byrd’s name from the business school, the university has established an anonymous system to report discrimination, is reviewing its curriculum to ensure diversity, has added diversity and inclusion training for all members of the university community, and is establishing a diversity scholarship to recruit and retain students of color in underrepresented programs.