Font Size

Notice body

As part of Auburn’s efforts to promote opportunity and equity, the university is evaluating the history and context of its named buildings and structures. With that effort underway, the below Q&As provide additional background on how recent building name changes connect to a larger initiative by the university.

Why is Auburn renaming certain buildings on its campus?

Tiger Hall has been named in honor of Bessie Mae Holloway, and Eagle Hall has been named in honor of Josetta Brittain Matthews. Recent Board of Trustees decisions concerning the names of certain buildings on campus are part of an ongoing effort by Auburn to honor individuals whose contributions to the university have led to meaningful change and are deserving of such recognition. All of these changes have come amid the creation of two task force groups—the Presidential Task Force for Opportunity and Equity and the Auburn Board of Trustees Task Force.

Why were Bessie Mae Holloway and Josetta Brittain Matthews selected?

This February, Auburn’s Board of Trustees voted to rename two residence halls in recognition of two Auburn trailblazers, Bessie Mae Holloway and Josetta Brittain Matthews. Holloway was the first Black person to serve as a member of the Board of Trustees and only the second woman, serving from 1985-2000. Matthews was the first Black student to graduate from Auburn, earning a master’s degree in 1966 and a doctorate in 1975, both in education. She was also the first Black faculty member at the university, joining the College of Liberal Arts as a French and history instructor around 1972.

Who decided to change these two building names?

The Auburn Board of Trustees holds responsibility for determining names of campus facilities. The naming of the two residence halls for Holloway and Matthews, upon recommendation by the Board Task Force, followed established procedures and included consultation with the Presidential Task Force for Opportunity and Equity, comprised of representatives from campus constituencies.

What is the process for having a building renamed on Auburn’s campus?

In November 2020, Auburn’s Board of Trustees passed a resolution for a new policy on the removal of names from buildings or structures on university-owned property, noting that the names of buildings, structures and roads are to be “a reflection of Auburn’s enduring tradition and values,” as reflected in the Auburn Creed and Auburn’s mission “to improve the lives of the people of Alabama, the nation and the world through forward-thinking education, life-enhancing research, extension, scholarship and selfless service.”

Auburn’s Board can consider naming buildings and other university facilities and roads in honor of those with an exceptional record of service or contribution to Auburn. For Trustees to consider a naming, a request or recommendation must first be advanced by a relevant unit on campus to Auburn’s president. A unit’s administrative head, dean, director, vice president or the provost as well as the vice president for development are all permitted to submit such requests. Upon the president’s approval, a naming recommendation would then be forwarded on to the president pro tem of Auburn’s Board. If concurrence is received at that level, the recommendation is then placed on the board’s agenda for consideration by the full board. Only through a positive vote of three-fourths of board members present can a building or other university facility or road be named.

Which other buildings have been recently named or renamed on Auburn’s campus?

Most recently, Auburn’s student center was named in honor of Harold D. Melton, the chief justice of the Georgia Supreme Court and first Black president of the Auburn Student Government Association.

Additionally, in November 2020, the Board unanimously supported the removal of Gov. Bibb Graves’ name from the campus amphitheater and drive that bore his namesake. The resolution stated that keeping his name on campus would be “inconsistent with the university’s mission and the Auburn Creed and would chill, rather than encourage, broad use of facilities that are intended to be enjoyed as sites for engagement by the campus community.”

How do Auburn’s recent building name changes connect to a larger initiative by the university?

Auburn’s latest efforts to evaluate the history and context of its named buildings and structures is part of a larger initiative by Auburn to promote opportunity and equity. The university is committed to advancing inclusion and diversity as core values and is focused on several initiatives in that endeavor, to include addressing disparities in recruitment and retention of students, faculty and staff from underrepresented areas as well as the implementation of a campus-wide Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Education and Training program.

Does Auburn plan to name more buildings in the future?

As part of its ongoing commitment to further embrace diversity, equity and inclusion and to tell the story of those who have advanced such causes, Auburn is considering additional naming opportunities in consultation with board and university task force groups as well as Auburn’s Office of Inclusion and Diversity. Any such future recommendations would follow the Board of Trustees’ policy for the naming of buildings, facilities and roadways.

What other initiatives is Auburn leading to advance diversity, equity and inclusion on its campus, beyond the effort to rename buildings? 

Auburn is advancing other initiatives aimed at promoting opportunity and equity on campus, to include addressing disparities in recruitment and retention of students, faculty and staff from underrepresented areas as well as the implementation of a campus-wide Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Education and Training program. The university’s Presidential Task Force for Opportunity and Equity was established as a representative team invested in developing an equitable and inclusive Auburn and has set as its current priority a goal to examine racial inequality and to recommend strategies for addressing disparities. The latest progress of this task force can be found here.

Where can I go to learn more about Auburn’s diversity, equity and inclusion efforts?

Auburn’s Office of Inclusion and Diversity serves as a vital resource for building unity, equity and inclusion in the Auburn University community. Auburn’s Presidential Task Force for Opportunity and Equity website also offers information on its initiatives and provides other Diversity, Equity and Inclusion resource links. Additionally, the Auburn Alumni Association offers this inclusion and diversity website to provide helpful information to Auburn alumni about virtual events, resources, Black Alumni Week and ways to share your experience as well as details about its Black Alumni Council.