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Board of Trustees creates task force on building naming policies

Alexander Welling | Assistant Photo Editor
Grace Speights, the chair of the Board of Trustees, said she is holding discussions with student leaders during her first year in office.

The Board of Trustees has launched a new task force to examine GW’s policies about naming and renaming buildings.

Board Chair Grace Speights said the Task Force on Naming, in development since at least earlier this month, will comprise 17 officials, trustees, students, faculty and alumni who will create a set of policies to guide potential name changes, according to an email sent to the GW community Thursday. The move comes after Student Association leaders delivered a proposed name change policy to officials in spring and revived an SA task force last October on the issue.

“GW has its own history that we must explore, and we need a framework in place to be able to advance these discussions,” Speights said in the email. “As part of its governance responsibilities, the Board of Trustees will lead an inclusive and collaborative process to create that framework.”

Speights said the task force – which will be chaired by trustee Mark Chichester – is charged with developing recommendations for principles to guide naming and name changes, circumstances that merit consideration of name change requests and procedures for name change considerations, according to the email. The group will deliver their recommendations to the board by end of the academic year.

“I want to be clear that the task force will not consider specific requests for name changes,” she said in the email. “Its charge is limited to recommending the principles and procedures for addressing name change requests. This is a requisite first step to determining when and whether requests for name changes should be considered and in making any renaming decisions.”

The task force’s membership includes three students: André Gonzales, the chair of the SA’s Colonial Moniker Task Force; Shelby Singleton, who has helped lead student efforts to change building names on-campus during her time as the SA’s vice president for diversity and inclusion; and Camila Tapias, a graduate student and presidential student liaison, according to the email.

Patricia Carocci, the associate vice president of development for alumni relations and annual giving; Lorraine Voles, the vice president for external relations; and Caroline Laguerre-Brown, the vice provost for diversity, equity and community engagement, will also serve on the task force, according to the email.

Other members of the task force include Ward 7 Councilmember Vincent Gray, an alumnus and former D.C. mayor; Michelle Rubin, the president of Regional Properties, Inc. and an alumna; three faculty members; four trustees and an emeritus trustee, according to the email. Speights and University President Thomas LeBlanc will serve as ex officio members of the group.

The group is the board’s third active task force or strategic committee. Trustees have also created a strategic planning task force and a strategic committee on enrollment.

Speights said the community will have opportunities to provide input on the issue in the coming months to inform the task force’s work.

“I invite you to take advantage of them and be involved in this process as we move forward together,” she said.

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