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University History

September 14, 2020

Official Meeting Minutes

Presidential Commission on University History

September 14, 2020 at 11:30 a.m.


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This meeting of the Presidential Commission on University History at the University of South Carolina Columbia campus took place virtually via Microsoft Teams. Elizabeth West, University Archivist of the South Carolinian Library, called this meeting to order at 11:31 a.m.  

Next Meeting:  October 14, 2020 at 3:00 p.m.

Kareemah Hosendove – Roll Call

Attendees: Christian Anderson, Jessica Allison, Stacey Bradley, Myisha Eatmon, Jennifer Gunter, I.S. Leevy Johnson, Andrea L’Hommedieu, Valinda Littlefield, Mercedes Lopez-Rodriguez, Derrick Meggie, Harris Pastides, Carla Pfeffer, Karen Roberts, Issy Rushton, Todd Shaw, James Smith, David Snyder, Hannah White, Qiana Whitted, Elizabeth West, Robert Weyeneth, Julian Williams

Approval of meeting minutes
Motioned and seconded

Elizabeth West – Updates

  • Review and approval of meeting minutes from August 21, 2020 Commission meeting
  • Valinda Littlefield - Research assistant Update
  • Website
    1. feedback needed from Commission
    2. Communications will post a web story soon
    3. FAQ pages TBD
  • President has issued a concise charge to the commission
  • New members have joined the commission


Subcommittee Reports

Jennifer Gunter – University History Subcommittee Report

  • Revisited and discussed President Caslen’s Charge to the Commission.
  • Goals
  • By end of fall semester have a brief of basic information on the people buildings are named for.
  • Spring semester we will develop the information
  • Reviewed suggestions to visibly disseminate information
    • Pull together the existing content for the website
    • Address university curricula
    • Each department and college could include a history of their founding on their webpages to include the history of the building’s name
    • Create a resource guide
    • Work with Art to develop a brief documentary series about unrevealed history of the University. “This happened here” campaign
    • Partner with local communities that have been impacted by the University
    • Russell House ballroom as a possible location for public input on buildings and any other issues of concern such as oral interviews because of the need to be more inclusive.
    • Create a statement for the website inviting interested parties who wish to present to the committee to submit a written statement
  • Suggestions from the community regarding public hearings for the intent of presenting to the Commission

Harris Pastides
Subcommittee spoke about reaching out to a broader audience of University constituents to solicit ideas regarding declaring the University’s commitment to diversity, inclusion, social justice, and racial justice.

Todd Shaw
Regarding public hearings – using them to gain a broad-set of community input.

Julian Williams
University History continuation of work considerations:

  • Structure investment (ex: academic center; includes robust programming, specialized staff)
  • Review of peer universities’ similar works

Andrea L’Hommedieu – Names on Landscape Report

Teams documents and committee work:

  • Reminder to subcommittee to review documents, add peer institution renaming guidelines for committee review

Extensive discussion on how to develop and discuss criteria; suggestion to begin broadly looking at individual’s writings, speeches, memberships, articulated views on slavery or segregation, slave ownership, Carolinian Creed

Recommendations work:

  • Incorporation of public input in recommendations work
  • The importance of the committee employing a democratic process in arriving at recommendations
  • Categories for recommendations: remove, remain, needs further research
  • Prioritize: highest concerns to lower concerns

Action Items

  • Interim report by end of the semester with fuller report in the spring, brief information on each person for which a building is named.
  • Research processes and criteria at other institutions (UNC Chapel Hill, UVA, Princeton) in order to develop and compare criteria to assess
  • Create biographical descriptions for the five prioritized names:
  • Files basic research created for: Thurmond, Cooper, Hampton, Thornwell, Lieber 
  • Schedule a subcommittee meeting exclusively for discussion about criteria 

William Hubbard
Inquiry – Once names are reviewed will they be shared with the Commission for sake of public  transparency?

Andrea L’Hommedieu
Yes, it will be shared with the Commission.

Elizabeth West – Communication and Education

  • Statement on the website is needed to encourage the public to communicate with the Commission
  • Email address and comment form are available on the website
  • Public forum to be scheduled early October and early November 2020 – coordinating with Special Events
  • Education Component – considerations
    • New ways to disseminate information on university history (funding may be needed)
    • Future commitments to diversity and inclusion includes arts, community, and other projects with the broader community
    • Tours – led by the Visitor Center or campus subgroups like the multicultural student tours
    • Curricular adjustments that amplify the work of the Center for Civil Rights
    • Updating the African American Presence Wall located in the Russell House
    • Consideration of Alumni Center to host events
    • Recommendations from the Commission can aid in reinforcing University 101 (U101) and the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion collaboration in training U101 instructors
    • Interface with the broader community such as Historic Columbia’s City of Women project
    • Apps to cover different ways to disseminate information

Action Items

Developing a list of potential projects in Teams

  • Includes content from campus groups and/or units
  • Recommendations from this list to be submitted to President Caslen
  • Organizing public forums
  • Create a statement to solicit public input 

Julian Williams
Suggestion – regarding forums, consult with the campus unit the manages group gatherings

Jennifer Gunter
Opportunity for a Commission panel to speak at the SCCRR annual Equity Summit in early November. More information will be provided.

Julian Williams
Commission to provide a robust outline (regarding University History and Naming of Landscapes) made available for public feedback 


The meeting was adjourned at 12:12 p.m.


Recorded by Kareemah Hosendove,
Executive Assistant
Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

University History

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