Emory University to drop names of 2 men, citing their pasts

ATLANTA (AP) — Emory University in Atlanta will remove the names of a former psychologist and a former U.S. Supreme Court justice from campus institutions and professorships.

President Gregory Fenves announced the changes on Thursday. They follow his decision to convene a committee in 2020 to examine people whose names are honored by Emory.

The Yerkes National Primate Research Center is named for psychologist and primatologist Robert Yerkes, who the university said “vigorously supported” eugenics. That idea called for genetic improvement of humans and was often used to discriminate against racial minority groups and people with disabilities. The facility will become the Emory National Primate Research Center.

Two professorships in the university’s law school now named for L.Q.C. Lamar, an Emory graduate who wrote Mississippi’s secession ordinance and defended slavery and white supremacy, will become Emory School of Law Distinguished Professors.

Georgia’s largest private university already renamed a dormitory that honored a president who defended slavery and named a building on its Oxford campus for Horace Johnson Jr., a Black judge who died of an apparent heart attack in 2020 less than a week after testing positive for COVID-19.

Fenves, though, said he won’t rename a gate on the Atlanta campus and a residence hall in Oxford that honor former president Atticus Green Haygood. Although the committee recommended that Haygood’s name be removed, Fenves noted that Haygood later denounced slavery, helped found historically Black Paine College in Augusta and supported development of other schools for Black people.

Fenves said he’s still considering removing the name of George Foster Pierce, a pre-Civil War president of Emory and Methodist bishop. A building on the Oxford campus and streets on both the Oxford and Atlanta campuses are named for Pierce, according to Emory’s website..

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