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University History

Final Report - Executive Summary

July 16, 2021

The Presidential Commission on University History received a charge to study and better understand the complex history of the University of South Carolina, including the contributions of marginalized and underrepresented people and/or groups whose voices have typically not been heard.  

This was to include an examination not only of the historic context of campus buildings’ names, but also of the lives of those who had buildings named after them, including their impact on the university, the state and the community around them. The effort would include a specific analysis of individuals and buildings and a broad acknowledgement of key groups and individuals that have contributed to the university over time.  

The Commission members unanimously approved the final report and recommendations of the subcommittees on July 16, 2021. 

Research and Methodology

The research assistant for the commission organized and compiled sources for a University of South Carolina history website, created a list of notable historical figures for naming and renaming opportunities, created a short, informative list of every named building and monument on the Columbia campus and wrote detailed reports of the 13 building or monument namesakes the Names on the Landscape subcommittee chose to review. The Board of Trustees accepted the commission's 2020 recommendation to rename Sims College.

University History Subcommittee 

The University History Subcommittee conducted research on archival materials and publications related to the university, especially with respect to uncovering information about disenfranchised and marginalized individuals and communities and identifying further gaps, along with research on names of buildings and monuments on the Columbia campus.

The subcommittee also gathered information from other higher education institutions doing similar work including UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Virginia, University of Alabama, Georgetown University, Brown University, University of Georgia, and University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

The subcommittee worked with University of South Carolina students, faculty, staff and community members to collect name recommendations for future naming opportunities. The committee agreed on 16 names of African Americans:

Communication and Education Subcommittee

The Communications and University History subcommittees developed recommendations for educational activities, programs, events, and funding that will better disseminate a diverse and inclusive examination of the university’s history.

Opportunities to provide information and education include:

  • Adding an interactive map so that visitors can connect to different historical figures, subjects, and events by clicking on different buildings or sections of campus. 
  • virtual tours
  • a booklet issued during student orientation that provides a brief, inclusive, and illustrated history of the University of South Carolina.
  • academic courses on the history of the University and/or incorporate research on the history of the University. 
  • incorporate/update study of the University’s history into University 101
  • create an exhibit panel for each building providing the history of the building and a fuller biography of its namesake. This enables the University to provide educational and historical context on each building, regardless of renaming recommendations, while the Heritage Act is in place.   

Names on the Landscape Subcommittee

The Names on the Landscape subcommittee established criteria for renaming buildings, produced research reports on 13 buildings, and recommended retention of three names and removal of ten names. It should be noted that Sims College was researched and voted on prior to the development of the criteria and procedures used for the subsequent 13 names.

Names recommended for retention:

Names recommended for removal:


Additional Recommendations 

Funding and Research 

  • Establish long-term, sustainable funding sources to support continued research and educational activities on the university’s history, including administrative support, faculty release time, salary supplements, and small grants programs. 
  • Make funding sources available to both faculty and staff, as not all who are teaching are faculty, and allow for nonacademic departmental participation. 
  • Support SCIAA proposal, NPHC Monument, Indigenous Discovery Tours of University of South Carolina’s Historic Horseshoe  
  • Continue dedicated and funded research of names on the buildings and landscape, following the research methodology established by the Names on the Landscape Subcommittee. 
  • Fund a dedicated post-doctoral position for 2-3 years to conduct oral histories with faculty, staff, students, and alumni, as well as at large community members to document their memories of and experiences with the university. 
  • Encourage faculty and students engaged in the study of the university’s history to submit their work to Scholar Commons institutional repository.  
  • Encourage all campus units to compose/update their histories and deposit them in the University Archives. Review them for needed updates every two years.  

The commission’s work goes beyond the focus of building renaming. The commission endorses the continuation of this important work, to capture this rich, diverse and evolving history of the University of South Carolina.  


Full Report

University History

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