Wintersteen accepts committee's Catt Hall recommendation

A review committee, after its final vote, has recommended the university keep the name of Carrie Chapman Catt on Catt Hall.

In a campus message this morning to students, faculty and staff, President Wendy Wintersteen accepted the committee's recommendation and thanked members for their service, which began in the spring of 2021.

"The committee has methodically dealt with an extremely complicated task," Wintersteen said. "The committee members had to come to grips with history that is told and understood from differing perspectives across a century. Theirs was an extraordinary commitment of time and effort. With thoughtful consideration of factual and historical materials, the committee deeply examined an important and complex historical figure."

south view of Carrie Chapman Catt Hall

Carrie Chapman Catt Hall.

The review committee took its final vote on Nov. 3 -- its 28th meeting. Eleven members voted to keep the name of Catt Hall, and four members voted to remove the name. As outlined in the university policy, two-thirds of the committee members must agree to recommend a name removal. A recommendation to remove the name would have required a final decision by the state Board of Regents under its own naming policy. However, because the recommendation is to keep the name, no further action is required.

In the committee's initial vote held in August, nine members voted to keep the name and six voted to remove. Following that initial vote, a 60-day public comment period began, ending Oct. 29. Over the two months, 311 comments were submitted to the committee. A link to all public comments reviewed by the committee is included in the appendix of the final report.

"I appreciate those who took the time to read the committee's report and provide thoughtful feedback," said Carol Faber, chair of the committee. "The number of individuals who responded underscores the importance of this issue to the university community, our alumni and stakeholders, and the public."

The committee reviewed nearly 250 historical documents from libraries, archives and databases around the country, and interviewed 12 persons with knowledge and expertise on Catt and events surrounding the building's naming.

"Equipped with these excellent resources and feedback, the committee engaged in an earnest, well-informed discussion and arrived at this report and recommendation," Faber said. "I thank the committee members for their patience and commitment. It is serious business to develop a recommendation to keep or remove a name on university property, and the committee gave the task thoughtful consideration and careful analysis."

As outlined in the policy and procedures, the committee will provide materials from the Catt Hall review to the library's Special Collections and University Archives to preserve and make available for public access.

Among Catt's connections to Iowa State during her lifetime, as outlined in the committee's report, were as a student, enrolling in 1877; an alumna, graduating in 1880; a recipient of an honorary Doctor of Laws degree in 1921; a commencement speaker in both 1921 and 1930; and, upon her death in 1947, a donor.

Catt succeeded Susan B. Anthony as president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, serving from 1900 to 1904 and from 1915 to 1920. She led the effort that culminated in the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution in 1920, giving American women the right to vote.


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