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University History

April 6, 2021

Presidential Commission on University History

April 6, 2021, 11 a.m.


Watch meeting video.


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 called the meeting to order at 11:00am.   She provided a brief welcome and introduced Alex Harrell, new USC Student Body President, who will be invited to future meetings.  Issy Rushton and Hannah White will remain on the Commission.  

Roll call – Kareemah Hosendove

Commission Attendees:  Dan Adams, Christian Anderson, Jessica Allison, David Crockett, Melissa DeVelvis, Jessica Elfenbien, Jennifer Gunter, Alex Harrell, Eboni Herbert Harris, William Hubbard, Andrea L’Hommedieu, Jonathan Leader, IS Leevy Johnson, Valinda Littlefield, Mercedes Lopez-Rodriquez, Carla Pfeffer, Eve Ross, David Seaton, Todd Shaw, Harry Singleton, James Smith, Frank Thorne, Elizabeth West, Hannah White, Qiana Whitted, Jeff Wilkinson, Julian Williams.

Absent:  Stacey Bradley, Maggie Carson, Myisha Eatmon, Walter Edgar, Edward Floyd, Derrick Meggie, Harris Pastides, Karen Roberts, Issy Rushton, Robin Waites, and Robert Weyeneth.  

Approval of Minutes

March 9 meeting minutes were approved as submitted.  


Littlefield reminded the Commission members of important, upcoming dates: 

Commission Meeting           TBD (Doodle Poll in progress)

Public Forum                        April 26, 5-6:30pm

Town Hall                               April 12, 5-6:30pm

Commission members are encouraged to volunteer to answer questions during the Town Hall session; please send your name to Kareemah or the three co-chairs if you’d like to volunteer.  Christian Anderson asked if statements would be accepted and read during the Town Hall on April 12.  Littlefield responded that it would be made clear that statements can be made at the Public Forum on April 26, not the Town Hall. 

Todd Shaw asked if speakers would be held to a time limit and how the questions would be submitted for the Town Hall.  Littlefield stated that there would be a time limit and questions will be submitted through the chat feature of Teams for the Town Hall and Matt Warthen and Jeff Stensland will review them to ensure duplication and overlap don’t occur.  Warthen suggested a practice session could be held just prior to the Town Hall, so those Commission members volunteering to answer questions are comfortable with the process and logistics.  

Subcommittee reports

  • Communications and Education – Elizabeth West.  The subcommittee has further discussed recommendations for short- and long-term communication and education activities and programs and prioritizing focus areas, including advocating for sustainable funding sources for history events and programs, building long-lasting communications conduits between the university and the community, sponsoring conferences or roundtables, and establishing an annual day or week reflecting on university history with various educational events.  Funding would also allow for RFPs from departments and units to produce and/or host events during the history week. 

Short term suggestions about what can be accomplished during the extended process for building renaming include having displays put in each building with QR codes for links to further information on the history of the building and the person for whom it was named.  

A joint meeting with the History subcommittee will take place on April 7 at 11am, because some of the work of these two groups have overlapped.   The meeting will better coordinate as the work of these subcommittees continue.  

  • Names on the Landscape – Andrea L’Hommedieu.  The subcommittee has met twice since the last Commission meeting, on March 12 and March 26.  The frequency of meetings has been increased so review and discussion could take place in a timely manner.  Research on nine buildings has been completed; two more are in progress, with one to be finished this week.  

The subcommittee has completed review and discussion of seven of the building names, including beginning writing the recommendations which will presented to the full Commission.   

On April 13, the next scheduled subcommittee meeting, two or three building names will be reviewed.  In addition to research, discussion and voting, the recommendation packages are being prepared for future Commission review.  

  • University History – Jennifer Gunter.  The subcommittee has met twice since the last Commission meeting.  At the last meeting, a list of criteria was developed so that future naming of buildings could be better vetted.  Resources used in developing the criteria came from other universities across the country.  Commission feedback on these criteria is requested.   

A letter in support of the residents and former residents of St James/Wheeler Hill has been drafted, as requested by the Commission.  Edits will be requested by Friday so it can be finalized and sent to President Caslen.  

Nelda Bailey, the assistant director of fraternity and sorority life at USC, attended a  subcommittee meeting and shared information about an NPHC (National Pan-Hellenic Council) remembrance project which has being going on for two or three years.  The group is currently working on design, fundraising, development and budget and the subcommittee voted to support this work.  

A student representative of the Freshman Council Legacy Project shared information about their plans to honor eighteen notable faculty members, staff and students at Carolina.   The subcommittee is supportive of this project and provided a list which might be considered.  Littlefield added that the Legacy Project plans to put portraits of the individuals being honored on the Pickens Street bridge, which is a wonderful use of that space.  If anyone has suggestions of additional individuals to be considered for this project, please send them to the History subcommittee.  

New Business

Gunter was pleased to see Mercedes Lopez-Rodriguez attending the meeting today.  

Harry Singleton said he was humbled and proud to be a part of the Commission, which is transforming history in so many ways.  He appreciates the hours of work being spent at this important time for our university and nation. 

Gunter reminded the Commission that their help in completing the writeups needed for the building renaming files would be much appreciated, as the April 15 deadline is approaching. 


Meeting was adjourned by Littlefield at 11:33am.

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