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University History

Original Charge

The commission's scope was initially detailed in a charge from President Caslen on October 18, 2019. The commission's official charge was updated on August 20, 2020.

Scope of Work

Upon establishing the Presidential Commission on University History, President Caslen sought the completion of four key tasks:

  • identify and include the contributions of marginalized and underrepresented people and/or groups whose voices have typically not been heard
  • conduct a comprehensive and constructive review of our campus history to include the naming of our campus buildings and generate a historical report to the president, which will also to be made available to the public
  • a list of recommendations to address new understandings that arise from the commission’s research
  • bring forward to the Board of Trustees a set of names of prominent African-American South Carolinians who could be considered for honorific naming of university buildings in the near future.

The original charge was revised by President Caslen on Augst 20, 2020. Official Charge »

 

Original Charge

 

October 18, 2019

Dear Colleagues:

I have authorized the creation of a Presidential Commission on University History.

In May of this year, Dr. Harris Pastides received a formal recommendation from our university’s Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee (DIAC) to create this commission. The recommendation honors the inquiries and requests over the past few years to evaluate and/or change the names of University buildings. As you are aware, many of the people for whom our buildings were named have histories as ardent supporters for the enslavement of African-American people, owned enslaved people themselves, and/or expressed deeply racist views over the course of their lifetimes. Understanding that the South Carolina Heritage Act of 2000 limits (if not prohibits) our ability to change building names, it is the University’s intent through this commission to study and better understand the histories of the people whose names adorn our buildings. It is also our intent to research university history – more broadly – to capture the voices and contributions of forgotten, excluded, or marginalized groups and individuals who positively contributed to the establishment, maintenance, and growth of our university. As such, the establishment of this Commission is not only about how we address building names but is also about our collective effort to create a more inclusive and welcoming campus community by presenting a more inclusive narrative of our university’s history.

The objective of the Commission is to lead a research effort that will help us to better educate students, faculty, staff, visitors, and local community members about the complex history of the university, to include the contributions of marginalized and underrepresented people and/or groups whose voices have typically not been heard. Expected outcomes of the commission include:

  • A historical report to the president (also to be made available to the public); and,
  • A list of recommendations that address new understandings that arise from the Commission’s research.

Dr. Harris Pastides, president-emeritus, Dr. John Dozier, chief diversity officer, and Dr. Valinda Littlefield, associate professor of history and faculty director of community engagement, have agreed to serve as co-chairs and I ask that you serve as a commission member. Please email Ms. Kareemah Hosendove in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion to confirm your participation at hosendkt@mailbox.sc.edu. You will also receive a paper copy of this letter by mail.

Your voice is needed on the commission and I appreciate your support of and commitment to the University as we engage in this important work.

Bob Caslen


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