BOT votes to remove Calhoun name from Honors College, asks state to rename Tillman Hall
|Friday, June 12, 2020, 10:11 AM- -|
CLEMSON – The Clemson University Board of Trustees voted Friday morning to remove John C. Calhoun’s name from the Honors College.
The new name is the Clemson University Honors College. The BOT also has asked the state's general assembly for the right to vote to change the name of Tillman Hall, named for Ben Tillman. The BOT asked for the building revert to its former name, Old Main.
Calhoun's name was added to the Honors College in 1981, over 100 years after Calhoun’s death. Calhoun was a slave owner and secessionist, and Clemson University was built on Calhoun's Fort Hill Plantation. That home still stands in the middle of campus as a museum to the founding family today.
Past attempts to rename the Honors College have been met with resistance, with the university claiming they had to consult the SC Heritage Act, which prohibits historical buildings and figures from being renamed without a two-thirds vote from the General Assembly. However, that was recently to not be the case.
Among those pushing for change are former Clemson football stars Deandre Hopkins and Deshaun Watson.
Hopkins took to social media and explained that he doesn't say Clemson during NFL games because of Calhoun's name attached to the school.
"As we watch everything happening in the world, I want to bring up something that has been bothering me for a long time in my community," Hopkins wrote on Instagram. "Clemson University still honors the name of well known slave owner and pro-slavery politician John C. Calhoun on its buildings, signs, and in the name of its honors program. I felt this oppressive figure during my time at Clemson and purposely do not mention the University’s name before NFL games because of it. I am joining the voices of the students and faculty who have restarted this petition to rename the Calhoun Honors College. I urge all Clemson students, football players, and alumni to join us, so the next generation of young Black leaders can be proud of the institution they graduate from. Now is the time for change."
Former Clemson standout quarterback Deshaun Watson was also in agreement with Hopkins.
"Clemson University should not honor slave owner John C. Calhoun in any way," Watson tweeted Monday. "His name should be removed from all University property and programming. I am joining the students, faculty & DeAndre to restart this petition to rename the Calhoun Honors College."
View this post on Instagram
As we watch everything happening in the world, I want to bring up something that has been bothering me for a long time in my community. Clemson University still honors the name of well known slave owner and pro-slavery politician John C. Calhoun on its buildings, signs, and in the name of its honors program. I felt this oppressive figure during my time at Clemson and purposely do not mention the University’s name before NFL games because of it. I am joining the voices of the students and faculty who have restarted this petition to rename the Calhoun Honors College. I urge all Clemson students, football players, and alumni to join us, so the next generation of young Black leaders can be proud of the institution they graduate from. Now is the time for change. Please help us by signing and sharing this petition here: tinyurl.com/calhounpetition
Thankful for our University leadership! pic.twitter.com/t7FE36emah— Dan Radakovich (@ClemsonDRad) June 12, 2020
Official News Release:
Clemson Trustees approve Honors College name change; request authority to restore original name of Tillman Hall
CLEMSON, S.C. — The Clemson University Board of Trustees today approved changing the name of the University’s Honors College to the Clemson University Honors College, effective immediately. The college has been named the Calhoun Honors College since 1982.
The trustees also approved a resolution respectfully requesting authority from the South Carolina General Assembly to restore Tillman Hall to its original name of the Main Building, commonly called “Old Main.”
“Clemson University has a long-celebrated history of tradition and excellence, but we must recognize there are central figures in Clemson’s history whose ideals, beliefs and actions do not represent the university’s core values of respect and diversity,” said Chairman Smyth McKissick. “Today’s action by the Board acknowledges that now is the time to move forward together as a more unified Clemson Family in order to make our university stronger today and into the future.”
In 2018, the Board asked Provost Robert Jones to lead a task force to study and make recommendations on ways to enhance the quality and relevance of the honors college. The Board approved the recommendations from the Provost, endorsed by President Jim Clements, which include setting the goal of becoming a nationally ranked, top-tier honors college; creating a dean position to oversee the college; creating a strategic plan for the college; and renaming the college to Clemson University Honors College.
The Board also adopted a resolution respectfully requesting the South Carolina General Assembly make a one-time exception to the state’s Heritage Act during the 2021 legislative session. This exception would give limited authority to the Board to restore Tillman Hall to its original name of the Main Building. The resolution further affirms that the Board will not be seeking any further exceptions from the Heritage Act beyond this request.
The actions today were consistent with a deliberative process set in motion by the Board in 2015 when it established a history task force to tell the full and complete history of Clemson. During the past few years, the task force has taken several actions including erecting historical markers, documenting Clemson founders’ biographies, and updating historical signage to better reflect the complete history. The Board actions today were in keeping with its values including integrity, respect, diversity, patriotism, excellence, and self-reliance.
“Our Trustees’ leadership today sends a clear message that Clemson University intends to be a place where all our students, employees and guests feel welcome,” said President Clements. “Our work in this area is far from finished, but we are committed to building on the progress we have made in the areas of diversity and inclusivity as we strive to serve our entire state and the nation.”