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University History

Names on the Landscape Subcommittee Final Report

Committee Members

Andrea L’Hommedieu, chair; Melissa DeVelvis, Myisha Eatmon, Walter Edgar, Edward Floyd, Jessica Elfenbein, Jennifer Gunter, William Hubbard, I.S. Leevy Johnson, Karen Roberts, Issy Rushton, David Seaton, Harry Singleton, Robin Waites, and Elizabeth West. 

Committee Charge

  • The Names on the Landscape subcommittee was charged with providing a written report to include:
  • Description of meetings held, including dates and attendance
  • A summary of the commission’s work
  • Names of buildings reviewed and for each building reviewed provide:
    • Summary of why the building was reviewed
    • Historical summary of the individual for whom the building is named
    • An argument for retaining present naming
    • An argument against retaining present naming
    • Final commission recommendation on naming based on the preponderance of merit

Statement of Comprehensive Work

In this first phase of the commission’s work, we devoted considerable time and effort to foundational work for what we conceive as a long-term dedication to the research, review, and assessment of names on the landscape at the University of South Carolina. Development and approval of criteria by which to guide our deliberations was essential in providing a fair and equitable review process. The committee also spent time developing a process for researching individual names and deliberating the research for recommendations. Melissa DeVelvis, who spearheaded the research effort, did exceptionally thorough research on each individual name (see Research Methodology). We expect future reviews, with adequate research support, to take less time now that processes and guidelines are in place.

Criteria

The committee initially focused its efforts on developing a set of criteria to guide the recommendation process. We gathered information from other higher education institutions who were doing similar work while acknowledging our vision was ultimately to do a thorough review of all named buildings on campus, a goal more expansive than our peer institutions (see Appendix 9). We modeled the guidelines from UNC-Chapel Hill, included language from the Carolinian Creed, and added language that aligned with the president’s charge to the committee. After discussion and further revisions within the committee, we sent our draft to the commission for review, further revision, and final vote. The criteria were adopted by the full commission on Feb. 12, 2021 (Appendix 10).

Names Reviewed

The Names on the Landscape subcommittee’s discussions over what buildings to research initially included Woodrow and McMaster as well as others. The subcommittee decided on a list of 14 names to ensure that adequate time was allotted for the level of careful, detailed research required for each one. It should be noted that Sims was researched and voted on prior to the development of the criteria and procedures used for the subsequent 13 names. These 14 names are just a first step in the university’s examination of its diverse and sometimes difficult history (see Appendix 11).

The following names were reviewed during this period:

Robert Barnwell, Solomon Blatt, Thomas Cooper, L. Marion Gressette, Wade Hampton III, Ernest F. Hollings, Robert E. Lee, Francis Lieber, Augustus Baldwin Longstreet, Jonathan Maxcy, William Campbell Preston, J. Marion Sims, James Henley Thornwell, and James Strom Thurmond.

Recommendation Process

The committee developed a system for review and discussion of each name in concert with the research. We assembled information taken from the research to document the individual’s accomplishments and notable contributions to the university, the state and the country. We did the same for actions and behaviors deemed offensive by modern day standards. Each name was discussed individually and given ample time for debate. All members of the committee had a voice in deliberations. Once discussion ended, a voice vote took place as to whether we would write a recommendation to the full commission to remove or retain the name. There were no close votes. The committee recommends the following names be retained: Hollings, Lieber, and Maxcy. The committee recommends the following names be removed: Robert Barnwell, Solomon Blatt, Thomas Cooper, L. Marion Gressette, Wade Hampton III, Robert E. Lee, Augustus Baldwin Longstreet, William Campbell Preston, J. Marion Sims, James Henley Thornwell, and J. Strom Thurmond.

Meetings Reports and Agendas

There are reports to the full commission for each commission meeting. In some cases, our report covered more than one meeting as we sometimes met more often than the full commission. The reports were given on the following dates: 8/21/20; 9/14/20; 10/14/20; 11/02/20; 1/12/21; 2/18/21; 3/15/21; 4/6/21; 5/2/21; 6/2/21 (see Appendix 12).

The committee met 14 times on the following dates: 8/12/20; 9/4/20; 10/7/20; 10/28/20; 11/23/20; 12/14/20; 1/26/21; 2/26/21; 3/5/21; 3/12/21; 3/26/21; 4/13/21; 4/27/21; 5/14/21.

Accomplishments

  • Developed a set of criteria which, after minor revision, was adopted by the full commission at the Feb. 12, 2021, meeting.
  • Developed processes, procedures and forms to provide consistent evaluation, discussion and recommendations for each name reviewed.
  • Fourteen recommendations for either retaining or removing names from the University of South Carolina landscape were researched, discussed, and voted on.

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