Statement by President Tim Sands on Lee Hall
The recent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery have catalyzed the nation around the historical and systemic issues of racism and their impact on the Black community. At Virginia Tech, we have an opportunity to construct a microcosm of the society in which we wish to live, free of hate, violence, and racism. During the demonstrations and rallies in support of the Black Lives Matter movement right here in Blacksburg, calls have been renewed by our students, faculty, staff, and alumni to rename Lee Hall, given the building’s association with Claudius Lee, an 1896 alumnus and long-time faculty member.
To those who seek to rename Lee Hall, we want you to know that we have heard your concern. While there have been earlier reviews of the naming of Lee Hall, I am asking that we review this issue again.
I have asked the Council on Virginia Tech History, a group that includes faculty, staff, and students, to examine this issue and make a recommendation. That recommendation will be brought to the Commemorative Tributes Committee for review, and then to me, as the president. With my endorsement, a resolution would be presented to the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors for consideration at a future board meeting.
The Council on Virginia Tech History is uniquely positioned to offer the university community a careful assessment of the issue at hand. It was established in 2017 to examine the university’s many histories in the context of today and the Beyond Boundaries vision for the future as the university prepares for its sesquicentennial in 2022. This milestone provides a unique opportunity to reflect on Virginia Tech’s history, a history that has been closely associated with the history of Virginia, the history of the South, and the history of the U.S.
We invite all members of our community to work together to ensure that Virginia Tech becomes a model for a just and equitable learning community that prepares the next generation to lead in a new and better world.
Editor’s note: Please watch the recording on Unfinished Conversations on Race which was broadcast on YouTube and the university’s website last week.