Yale to change name of college tied to 19th century slavery defender

Yale University will change the name of its Calhoun College after protesters said the Ivy League school should drop the honor it gave to an alumnus who was a prominent advocate of U.S. slavery, the university said on Saturday.

The college is named for John C. Calhoun, a South Carolina native who served as U.S. vice president under John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson. He graduated from Yale College in 1804.

Yale said it will rename Calhoun College for Grace Murray Hopper, an alumnus who received a PhD in mathematics and mathematical physics in 1934. It described Hopper, who died in 1992, as a trailblazing computer scientist and a brilliant mathematician who also served as a rear admiral in the U.S. Navy.

Yale's wealthiest secret societies
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Yale's wealthiest secret societies

7. St. Elmo — $90,472

​​​St. Elmo was founded in 1889. Its notable alumni include HBO's "Girls" actress Allison Williams and former US Attorney General John Ashcroft.

(Kofm2008 Licensed under Public Domain via Wikipedia)

6. Berzelius — $1,945,346

Berzelius was founded in 1848. Its notable alumni include Bill DeWitt III, president of the St. Louis Cardinals.

(BoolaBoola2 Licensed under Public Domain via Commons, Filed under "Colony Foundation.")

5. Skull and Bones — $4,129,936

​​​​​​Skull and Bones was founded in 1832. Its notable alumni include former US Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush and US Secretary of State John Kerry.

(BoolaBoola2 Licensed under Public Domain via Commons, Filed under "RTA Inc.")

4. Elizabethan Club — $4,280,963

​​​​​The Elizabethan Club was founded in 1911. It describes itself as a social club, and members dedicate their time to the discussion of arts and literature of the Elizabethan era. Notable members include Cole Porter, the famed composer and songwriter.

(Licensed under Public Domain via Wikipedia, Filed under "Yale University Elizabethan Club Corp.")

3. Book and Snake — $5,619,120

​​​​​Book and Snake was founded in 1863. Its notable alumni include Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Charles Rivkin, the current US assistant secretary of state for economic and business affairs.

(Licensed under Public Domain via Commons, Filed under "Stone Trust Corp.")

2. Wolf's Head — $6,845,255

​​​​​​Wolf's Head was founded in 1883. It has the reputation of tapping primarily the "prep school" type, and was the last all-male society — allowing female members only in 1992.

Its notable alumni include hedge fund magnate Tom Steyer.

(BoolaBoola2 Licensed under Public Domain via Commons, Filed under "Phelps Association.")

1. Scroll and Key — $10,771,828

​​​​​​Scroll and Key was founded in 1842. Its notable alumni include CNN news anchor and columnist Fareed Zakaria and "Dateline NBC" news anchor Stone Phillips.

(Licensed under Public Domain via Commons, Filed under "Kingsley Trust Association.")


"The decision to change a college's name is not one we take lightly," Yale President Peter Salovey said in a statement about the residential college's name that has existed for 86 years.

"Calhoun's legacy as a white supremacist and a national leader who passionately promoted slavery as a 'positive good' fundamentally conflicts with Yale's mission and values," he added.

The Ivy League school in New Haven, Connecticut, is among several universities that have recently faced calls to dissociate themselves from symbols associated with racism.

The decision was made after a meeting with the university's board of trustees, the university president said.

In addition to serving as vice president, Calhoun was also a secretary of state, secretary of war and a U.S. senator. He used his power "to advocate ardently for slavery and white supremacy," Yale said in a statement.

Salovey said Yale will keep symbols of Calhoun elsewhere on campus in order not to erase the past from the more than 300-year-old university.

In April 2016, Yale said it reached a decision to keep the name Calhoun College, saying it would encourage the campus to confront the history of slavery.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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