University of Arkansas committee recommends removing Fulbright name, statue

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A University of Arkansas committee tasked with examining the legacy of Senator J. William Fulbright recommends removing the former senator’s name from the university’s College of Arts and Sciences and taking down his statue from its location outside Old Main.

The committee released the following recommendations to Chancellor Joe Steinmetz on Wednesday:

  • Item One : J. William Fulbright’s name should be removed from the College of Arts and Sciences
  • Item Two : J. William Fulbright’s statue should be removed from its location outside Old Main
  • Item Three : Charles Brough’s name should be removed from Brough Commons

“The Black Alumni Society is in alignment with the recommendations put forth by the Committee to Evaluate J. William Fulbright’s Presence at the University of Arkansas. This is an item that we addressed in the list of recommendations that the Black Alumni Society made to the Chancellor and his leadership team in August of 2020. The Black Alumni Society remains committed to holding the University accountable. The University must be transparent on the progress that it is making to address our recommendations with swift action and by developing new methods to approach the systemic injustice that has long plagued the University. We cannot continue to address these issues with practices that have been in place for decades and are simply not working. These practices will continue to fuel student protests and the mass exodus of black students, faculty, and staff. We are calling for NEW STRATEGIES that will produce data on the outcomes and results that will contribute to improving the climate at the University.”

Ritche Manley Bowden, Black Alumni Society President

Steinmetz called the situation, “complicated,” but said the recommendations came from a well-organized process.

“We appreciate the hard work and time the committee took to complete its process of organizing and studying the historical foundation of the Fulbright and Brough names. The committee work included exploring the historical context in which Gov. Brough and Sen. Fulbright served and their actions in public life as viewed through a contemporary lens. The committee rightfully took time to deliberate and offer its recommendations. As such, we will continue with the next steps in this thoughtful process, gathering feedback on the recommendations, considering additional input and perspectives from a wide range of university stakeholders, including faculty, staff, alumni and students, and further discussing this matter with the my executive committee, President Bobbitt, and members of the Board of Trustees.

This matter is complicated by Sen. Fulbright’s deep connections to the state and university, and important international contributions, at the same time acknowledging that the name causes pain for some on our campus, which is unfortunate. I want to emphasize that we are a community, united by our love and appreciation for the University of Arkansas. As a community, we are strong and support each other, recognizing our differences as well as the things that unite us no matter the issue.”

Chancellor Joe Steinmetz

According to a release from the university on Wednesday, Steinmetz will now “continue the process of listening to a wide array of stakeholders and seek feedback regarding the committee’s recommendations.”

The university says this part of the process will conclude in late May.

Any name changes would require approval by the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees.

You can read the full text of the committee’s recommendations here.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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