Richmond Times-Dispatch Weekend

Today’s student priorities not best for UR’s future

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EDITOR, TIMES-DISPATCH:

Alumni of the University of Richmond (UR) must remain involved in debates over whether to change the names of campus buildings.

I graduated from the university in 1965, a history major. Afterward, I became a profession­al historian focused on Africa (M.A., Howard University, 1966 and Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles, 1972).

Using the strongest language this alumnus historian can muster, I urge UR President Ronald Crutcher and the Board of Trustees to retain unmodified the names for Ryland and Freeman Halls.

They should pay close attention to the political arguments of those who want to change building names. Then, with a profound sense of our alma mater’s diverse 180-year history, Crutcher and the trustees should uphold those historical names and persuasive­ly explain why.

Students come and go, their priorities are impermanen­t. The concerns and passions of today’s undergradu­ates markedly differ from those of 60 years ago. This historian strongly rejects the inflammato­ry rhetoric that America irremediab­ly is racist or that our alma mater is, too.

The academic legacy of our university should be proudly upheld, critically discussed, then factually agreed upon.

The primary goal of the modern university is to educate, not indoctrina­te.

Given the valuable educationa­l experience­s that occurred in venerable classrooms, I think alumni understand that those intellectu­al values will far outlast the passing concerns of any current group of students.

With long-term effects uppermost in their minds, this historian urges President Crutcher and the trustees to do the right thing — maintain the names of Ryland Hall and Freeman Hall as places where great learning takes place.

CHARLES GESHEKTER.

CHICO, CALIF.

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