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University History

February 18, 2021

Presidential Commission on University History

February 18, 2021 from 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. 

This meeting of the Presidential Commission on University History at the University of South Carolina Columbia campus took place virtually via Microsoft Teams. Valinda Littlefield, Associate Professor of History at the University of South Carolina, called this meeting to order at 3:00 p.m.  

Next Meeting:  March 9, 2021 at 11:00 a.m.  

Kareemah Hosendove – Roll Call 

Members: Dan Adams, Christian Anderson, Jessica Allison, Stacey Bradley, Maggie Carson, Myisha Eatmon, Walter Edgar, Jennifer Gunter, William Hubbard, I.S. Leevy Johnson, Jonathan Leader, Andrea L’Hommedieu, Valinda Littlefield, Mercedes Lopez-Rodriguez, Harris Pastides, Carla Pfeffer, Karen Roberts, Issy Rushton, David Seaton, Todd Shaw, Harry Singleton, James Smith, David Snyder, Robin Waites, Robert Weyeneth, Elizabeth West, Hannah White, Qianna Whitted, Jeffrey Wilkinson, Julian Williams

Valinda Littlefield – Updates

  • Timeline of interim report 
    • Interim report available for Commission – Feb. 22
    • Feedback from Commission due – Feb. 24
    • Send to President Caslen – Feb. 26
  • UNC Chapel Hill & UVA
    • Both in existence 5 – 8 years on campus history issues
  • UNC Chapel Hill
    • In 2019, created the Commission on History, Race, & the Way Forward
    • Co-chairs of former Commission (created in 2015) serve as advisors to current chancellor
    • 34 buildings named after slave holders, 15 named after segregationists or white supremacists
    • In July 2020, three names were removed: Charles B. Aycock, Julian S. Carr, and Josephus Daniels. Thomas Ruffin, Sr. building renamed as ‘Thomas Ruffin, Jr.’
    • Three buildings named after African Americans in 1992, 1997, and 2007
    • 17 members on the advisory committee
    • There is a standing committee for building naming
  • UVA
    • There is a commission dedicated to diversity in building names
    • Offers a summer institute that allows high school and junior high students from underrepresented groups to conduct research on the history of the institution
    • Offers a summer institute to k-12 teachers to recover UVA history
    • Various disciplines are involved
    • Town hall meetings take place often

David Seaton
-Is there criteria for naming? 

Valinda Littlefield 
-This information can be gathered

Harris Pastides

  • Work is similar to recognized works at UofSC (ei,  Richard T. Greener and Horseshoe slave markings) 
  • The amount of time is similar to that of UofSC to make changes

David Snyder
-Does UNC employ a full-time professional academic historian on matters such as this? And do they report to the President?

Valinda Littlefield
-There are two co-chairs that receive forced release time, a stipend, and budget for hiring graduate students

David Snyder
-Please comment on the composition of the sub-committee at UVA. 

Valinda Littlefield
-There is a mixture of academics, students, and community members 

Robert Weyeneth
-I may serve as the source for the position David Snyder mentioned. This was position housed within the Office of the President years ago. 

Valinda Littlefield
-We can go back and research this question


Subcommittee Reports

  • Communication & Education on University History – Elizabeth West
    • Website expanded version is available online
    • Information will be added during the expansion
  • Names on Buildings and Landscapes – Andrea L’Hommedieu (items are collectively from December and January – much of the tasks have been complete)
    • pre-approved criteria for the reports for recommendations
    • 5 complete / 2 partial research files
    • Review of 4 areas needed to use to write recommendations to the Commission: 
      • Writing a summary on the buildings
      • Historical summary for whom the building is named
      • Make an argument for the renaming
      • Make an argument against the present naming
    • Participation from the Commission is requested

Harris Pastides
-Will there be an examination of names recently received? 

Andrea L’Hommedieu
-This item was given to the University History sub-committee

Harris Pastides
-In regard to timeline, will the sub-committee be convening about one name at a time or how often might it be? How long will this activity take? 

Andrea L’Hommedieu
-Meetings will be scheduled more frequently, perhaps every two weeks. 

  • University History – Jennifer Gunter
    • Summary mentioned is complete
    • Summaries will be disseminated 2/19/2021
    • Sub-committee is meeting every two weeks
    • Created a draft of ‘Expanded University History’ 
    • Within the ‘New History’ page of the Commission website the information on expanded university history will begin to populate
    • Sub-committee voted and moved on top five items to rename
    • Members of chapter involved to assist the Commission
    • For consideration: What is holding us back from naming colleges, schools, and programs after people as did Clemson?
    • Expansion of Hanna White’s virtual tour on campus
    • Receipt of two letters from two residents (one former / the other a descendent) of the Wheeler Hill community 
    • Receipt of letter form the clergy at Saint James African American Episcopal Church 
    • Unanimous decision of the University History sub-committee, and a  proposed vote to the entire Commission to move to vote on the purchase of four lots surrounding the church, deeding the land to the church. 
    • In 1968, USC President Thomas F. Jones wrote “For many years, it has been a goal of the University and the City of Columbia to attempt to wipe out the entire slum area of approximately twelve blocks known as Wheeler Hill.” This was a thriving African American community that was taken by the University. The sub-committee asks the Commission for a letter of support. 
    • A list of recommended names has been submitted to the Commission, along with a list of courses related to undocumented stories 

Motion and Seconded for Wheeler Hill 
Harris Pastides – abstained
Julian Williams – abstained
James Smith- abstained 

Mercedes Lopez-Rodríguez
-Will the public forums continue? 

Valinda Littlefield

Meeting Close – Valinda Littlefield


The meeting was adjourned at 11:37 a.m. 

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


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