ATLANTA - Deciding whether to rename buildings or academic colleges on the 26 University System of Georgia campuses will be a complicated process fraught with emotion, system Chancellor Steve Wrigley warned Thursday.
“You will face some complex choices,” Wrigley told the five members of an advisory group formed last month to review those names and recommend any changes. “Be deliberate and thoughtful. Those are not words we hear a lot today. We want you to be persuaded only by the facts.”
The advisory group, which held its first meeting Thursday, was created amid a backdrop of protests across the country over centuries of racial injustice in America that have been marked by the removal of statues of Confederate leaders and public calls for renaming buildings honoring historic figures connected with the South’s history of slavery and racial discrimination and violence.
“These conversations need to happen … where these names come from, whether they’re appropriate and whether they need to change,” said Marion Ross Fedrick, president of Albany State University and the group’s chairman. “It is critical that we purposefully look at the naming of our buildings, colleges and schools.”
The group’s work promises to be time-consuming. More than 3,000 buildings dot the university system’s campuses, although not all have names.
Fedrick said she already has received more than 1,000 pages of information on the histories of those buildings. She said she would like the group to meet at least twice a month through December and decide at that time whether the process needs to continue into next year.
The group may develop an onsite platform to allow for public feedback.
Fedrick urged group members to give equal weight to the various sources of that public input.
“A lot of this will be emotional and personal,” she said. “What we don’t want to do is listen to one and not another.”
Besides Fedrick, the advisory group includes:
Michael Patrick, marketing and strategic growth at Chick-fil-A.
Herbert Phipps, a retired former Georgia Court of Appeals judge.
Neal J. Quirk, a lawyer and executive vice chairman of the University of Georgia Foundation.
Sally Wallace, dean of the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University.
By Dave Williams
Capitol Beat News Service