Virginia University Won't Ditch Robert E. Lee's Name

Washington and Lee will remain just that
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 4, 2021 4:00 PM CDT
Virginia University Won't Ditch Robert E. Lee's Name
A statue of young George Washington stands atop Washington Hall, one of the buildings that make up the Colonnade at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va.   (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

Washington and Lee University in Virginia is keeping its name intact. The school announced Friday that it won't drop "Lee," an homage to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, a former school president, reports the Richmond Times Dispatch. The Lexington university had been studying the issue for about a year, and its board of trustees voted 22-6 in favor of keeping the name as is. Faculty previously voted overwhelmingly in favor of ditching Lee, who took over as school president after the Civil War and served in that role for five years until his death. At that point, the school changed its name from Washington University—named after the first president—to Washington and Lee. The latter was buried in a campus chapel.

Though it passed on the name change, the school pledged $225 million in initiatives to promote diversity on campus, reports the AP. It also plans to tweak the names of some campus buildings such as Lee Chapel. The board of trustees said it "repudiated racial injustice in any form and expressed regret for the University’s past veneration of the Confederacy and the fact that the university itself owned human beings and benefited from their forced labor and sale." It pledged a commitment to "rigorous and nuanced explorations of W&L's history with humility and honesty." (More Washington and Lee University stories.)

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