U of M Board of Regents votes to leave building names unchanged

The University of Minnesota Board of Regents voted to leave the names of four school buildings unchanged Friday.

The Board held a special meeting about the historic building names of Coffman Memorial Union, Middlebrook Hall, Nicholson Hall and Coffey Hall.

The Regents declined President Eric Kaler’s recommendation to rename the buildings, which came after a task force of students and university leaders recommended the same in March.

In addition to not renaming the buildings, the board directed the administration to develop “ongoing commemorations, education activities or displays in one or more of these buildings to reflect the institution’s complex history.”

“The task force report and the work that preceded it sparked a debate about the purpose of honorary namings and about recognizing our University’s nearly 170-year history – some of it very challenging,” said Regent Dean Johnson, who chaired today’s meeting in Regent David McMillan’s absence. “The thought-provoking, high-quality work of the task force, combined with differing opinions on how to view historical information, have led us to this important decision point.”

Johnson added, “One thing is clear: the University must accept responsibility for any part in sowing division by race and religion in the past. We cannot avoid the judgment the institution’s history requires. But we also must move forward in ways that advance our learning about the past and make us a better, more inclusive institution in the future. Our action today is just beginning of this work.”

The Board also advanced a resolution that would direct U of M leadership to institute more efforts that “foster inclusion.” It would direct the administration to revise the policy on building names, too.