FAS Process for Denaming Spaces, Programs, or other Entities

May 5, 2022

Dear members of the FAS community,

Last December, President Bacow shared the final report of the Committee to Articulate Principles on Renaming with the Harvard community. The report sets out principles and a framework for considering cases in which Harvard might contemplate removing an individual’s name from a space, program, or other entity “based on the perception that a namesake’s actions or beliefs were ‘abhorrent’ in the context of current values.” In his message to the community, President Bacow asked each School to develop their own process for consideration of such requests. With the benefit of the report’s guidance and after extensive consultation with various faculty groups and administrative leaders, I’m writing today to share that the FAS process for considering requests for denaming is now in place.

The FAS denaming process is anchored in the following guiding principles, which center our educational mission and seek to promote careful thought and deliberation among members of the FAS community:

  1. As an academic institution dedicated to research and teaching, all efforts should be grounded in historical inquiry and in careful deliberation and investigation.
  2. The decision to remove a name should be the end product of deep examination and learning, one that reflects reason, persuasion, and discussion.
  3. Judgment about whether to undertake a review should rest primarily on the completeness of the submitted request rather than the number of identified proponents.
  4. The process should encourage generous listening and substantive discussion, motivated by care for the members of our community and a commitment to their full participation in our mission.
  5. The process should approach our history with humility and through the lens of reckoning and not forgetting.
  6. Action on a request does not depend on achieving community consensus, but there is an expectation that any request that moves forward to review will be subject to an inclusive process, broadly soliciting views from our community.

The full FAS process, including instructions for what requests must include and how requests will be evaluated, can be found on the Secretary of the Faculty’s website. A request may be submitted by anyone who is a current FAS affiliate (faculty, student, staff, or researcher), inclusive of SEAS, with a direct connection to the entity that is subject to the denaming request at the time the request is submitted. Please note that this process governs the consideration of requests for removing a name from a space, program, or other entity. It does not apply to FAS- or University-initiated decisions to name or rename spaces or programs in the ordinary course of managing the institution.

Denaming requests should be submitted to the Secretary of the Faculty at secfas@fas.harvard.edu. For the 2022-2023 academic year, the deadlines for denaming requests will be October 3, 2022 and March 1, 2023. Deadlines for future academic years will be published on the Secretary’s website.

These will undoubtedly be complicated requests, and we will learn a lot as we work our way through them. To ensure that we can quickly take advantage of what we learn to make the process better, we will plan to formally review the process at the end of three years, in the Spring of 2025.

Sincerely,
Claudine

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Claudine Gay
Edgerley Family Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences