Auburn names Student Center for Georgia Chief Justice

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The Auburn Student Center has been named for Harold Melton, chief justice of the Georgia Supreme Court and the first person of color elected as the university’s student body president.

Members of the Auburn Board of Trustees acted on the naming in a unanimous vote during its Friday meeting. The newly named Harold D. Melton Student Center is located in the heart of campus near Jordan-Hare Stadium and Haley Center.

“The issues we face require input from our stakeholders, a fact-based examination of campus diversity and equality and a vision for meaningful, impactful change,” said Trustee Elizabeth Huntley. “I couldn’t be happier now that the hub of student activity is named for an accomplished graduate who represents Auburn with such distinction.”

Huntley and Trustee James Pratt co-chair the Auburn Board’s committee responsible for recommending steps focused on diversity and inclusion. Its work takes place in conjunction with a campus-based task force organized by President Jay Gogue, who recently provided an update on its progress.

“Naming our student center in honor of Chief Justice Melton is an important, historic step in our long-term, deliberative, inclusive effort to strengthen Auburn and ensure that all members of the Auburn Family reach their fullest potential,” said Pratt.

Melton, from Marietta, Georgia, studied international business and Spanish at Auburn, graduating in 1988. He graduated from the University of Georgia School of Law in 1991. He has served on the Georgia Supreme Court since 2005 and was sworn in as its chief justice in 2018. He serves as a board member of the Atlanta Youth Academies and on the national, local and collegiate boards for Young Life Ministries.

Starting several months ago, Huntley and Pratt have engaged leadership of the Auburn Alumni Association, the Black Alumni Advisory Council, the Student Government Association and others to build consensus around constructive steps for the university. In addition, the Auburn Board in July endorsed a student-led initiative to create a plaza recognizing the legacy of Black Greek organizations and African-American culture. The National Pan-Hellenic Council Legacy Plaza will be erected in front of the new Academic Classroom and Laboratory Complex.

“Everyone is pulling together, from coaches and students to faculty, staff and alumni,” said Huntley. “The character and convictions of Auburn people are evident when we are united.”

“Both task forces are making progress,” Pratt said, “and it’s great to see the focus and commitment toward the future by everyone involved, especially as we’re also facing the challenges of a global pandemic.”

Huntley and Pratt also noted that Auburn is improving strategies for recruiting students from underrepresented groups.

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Auburn University is a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research with an elite, top-tier Carnegie R1 classification, life-changing outreach with Carnegie’s Community Engagement designation and an undergraduate education experience second to none. Auburn is home to more than 30,000 students, and its faculty and research partners collaborate to develop and deliver meaningful scholarship, science and technology-based advancements that meet pressing regional, national and global needs. Auburn’s commitment to active student engagement, professional success and public/private partnership drives a growing reputation for outreach and extension that delivers broad economic, health and societal impact.