Caltech has announced the results of its renaming committee process.
By News Desk
The Caltech Board of Trustees, has approved the following names to replace those on campus assets and honors that previously memorialized individuals affiliated with the eugenics movement:
- Caltech Hall (formerly the Robert A. Millikan Memorial Library)
- Lee F. Browne Dining Hall (formerly the Harry Chandler Dining Hall)
- Judge Shirley Hufstedler Professorship (formerly the Robert A. Millikan Professorship)
- Edward B. Lewis Professorships of Biology (formerly the Albert Billings Ruddock Professorships of Biology)
- Grant D. Venerable House (formerly Ruddock House)
In a message to the community on Monday, November 8, Caltech President Thomas F. Rosenbaum, holder of the Sonja and William Davidow Presidential Chair and professor of physics, said that the changes “underscore our continuing commitment to cultivate a thriving, supportive, and inclusive community of scholars.”
This move follows the previously authorized renaming of what was the Linde + Robinson Laboratory as the Ronald and Maxine Linde Laboratory for Global Environmental Science. It also comes after the completion of a series of legal and procedural steps. This included efforts by Institute leadership to connect with at least one descendant (sometimes multiple descendants) of the donors who were previously memorialized through established gift agreements. On April 9, 2021, Caltech filed with the Los Angeles Superior Court petitions seeking to remove naming restrictions and, on August 27, 2021, the court granted Caltech’s petitions, allowing the Institute to proceed with renaming.
The new names reflect the recommendations put forth by the Committee on Naming and Recognition in its December 2020 report as well as with the more recently convened Ruddock House Renaming Committee, which was established to advise on renaming the undergraduate residence. All assets that will carry the name of a new individual honor someone who both reflects the Institute’s values and aspirations and had a direct connection to and impact on the Caltech community.
Information on the new names and the individuals they honor follows:
- The name Caltech Hall, given to the most prominent building on campus, recognizes “generations (past, present, and future) of faculty, postdoctoral scholars, researchers, alumni, students, and staff who contribute to the Institute and to society,” the president explained in his message. This designation was recommended by the CNR in its report and described as “a manner of signaling Caltech’s aspiration to be an inclusive community.”
- The Lee F. Browne Dining Hall is named for Lee Franke Browne, a longtime educator who worked to address disparities within the country’s educational systems. Browne was Caltech’s director of secondary school relations for two decades beginning in the 1970s. During that time, he developed successful outreach programs that “encouraged students from underrepresented backgrounds to consider careers in science.”
- The Judge Shirley Hufstedler Professorship is named in honor of Shirley Mount Hufstedler, the country’s first cabinet-level secretary of education (as appointed by President Jimmy Carter), first female federal appellate judge, and a member of the Caltech Board of Trustees for 39 years. Judge Hufstedler supported Caltech’s environmental science program, served on an ad hoc board committee that examined the Institute’s future, and was chair of the Board’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory Committee, effectively advocating for JPL’s missions and programs.
- The Edward B. Lewis Professorships of Biology are named in honor of Caltech alumnus and longtime faculty member Edward B. Lewis (PhD ’42), who was awarded the 1995 Nobel Prize for his groundbreaking studies of how genes regulate the development of specific regions of the body. Lewis dedicated his academic career to Caltech, joining the faculty in 1946; he was appointed the Thomas Hunt Morgan Professor of Biology in 1966. Over decades, he collected and crossbred fruit fly mutants to identify the genes that control the development of each fly segment.
- The Grant D. Venerable House is named in honor of Grant Delbert Venerable (BS ’32), the first Black student to graduate from Caltech. Venerable received his undergraduate degree in civil engineering and went on to work as a mining engineer. Venerable’s name was advanced for consideration by the Ruddock House Renaming Committee, which noted in its recommendation that he “led a life that embodies the values and character of the house.” While studying at Caltech, Venerable was a member of the YMCA (now the Caltech Y), the American Society of Engineers, the track team, and the Exhibit Day committee. He also wrote for The California Tech, Caltech’s student newspaper, from 1929 to 1932.
The Institute is updating the names of all relevant assets online, and, as Rosenbaum noted to the community, will commence the process to replace all physical building signage while at the same time “continuing to record Caltech’s history in all its dimensions and tell its story fully.”
Source: Caltech. Edited by Ann Hunnewell
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