Work begins to review the naming of Catt Hall

By next week, the standing committee to review requests to rename university property will have met virtually three times this spring to work on its first assignment -- a review of Catt Hall. The committee, appointed by President Wendy Wintersteen in early March, is chaired by Carol Faber, associate professor of graphic design and past president of Faculty Senate.

Next week, the standing committee will meet with representatives of a historical research consulting firm that will research, collect and organize factual evidence on Carrie Chapman Catt, the 1880 alumna for whom Catt Hall is named. Following a public request for proposals in March, History Associates Incorporated (HAI) was selected to support the committee's work.

The 40-year-old firm, based in Rockville, Md., has professional historians in six states and Washington, D.C. The firm has worked on historical research projects with universities, federal agencies, associations, cultural institutions, corporations and law firms.

At last month's standing committee meeting, Reg Stewart, vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion, and Faber walked members through the university's Consideration of Removing Names from University Property policy, including its principles and accompanying procedures. Stewart and Faber cochaired the committee that developed the policy in 2020.

At its initial meeting held in March, Faber provided an overview of the process. Faber will appoint an inquiry committee, made up of three to five members of the standing committee, to review submitted requests for reconsidering Catt Hall's name.

"The inquiry committee's review is a formality since President Wintersteen has made Catt Hall a priority for the first implementation of the policy, but we did wish to include this step as it's laid out in the policy's procedures," Faber said.

Faber also outlined a general timeline for the review. For the rest of the spring and the summer, HAI will conduct its work, with plans to deliver results to the standing committee during the fall semester. The 17-member standing committee will double as the review committee, and reconvene in the fall to continue its work.