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Statement from the Board of Trustees

March 17, 2021

Dear Members of the University Community,

As Trustees, we deeply appreciate our students’ candor in the Statement on Black Student Welfare about their experiences at the University of Richmond. We recognize that we still have important work to do to become the truly inclusive community we aspire to be. We also understand the disappointment and hurt associated with our decision regarding the names of Ryland Hall and Mitchell-Freeman Hall.

We share President Crutcher’s deep commitment to ensuring an honest, transparent, and more inclusive account of the University’s history. This work has revealed the University’s complicity in slavery in the Ryland era and the advocacy of past-Rector Douglas Southall Freeman for segregation, disenfranchisement, racial purity measures, and eugenics — advocacy arising from false, racist, and abhorrent beliefs. Many of the actions and views brought to light by the research are wholly inconsistent with the institution we are today.

In numerous conversations, the Board gave careful consideration to the question raised by the student governments of removing Ryland’s and Freeman’s names from the buildings on our campus. We believe, however, that removing building names is inconsistent with the pursuit of our educational mission, which informs all of our actions.

We also share President Crutcher’s view that the University’s commitment to a more accurate and inclusive history must be manifest in visible ways on our campus. The Board unanimously supports recognizing permanently in Ryland Hall the names of those enslaved by Robert Ryland and those hired out to Richmond College, naming the Humanities Commons Terrace in honor of an enslaved person or persons whose names were recovered through the research into the Ryland era, and adding John Mitchell Jr.’s name to Mitchell-Freeman Hall. Future work will ensure recognition on campus of milestones and pathbreakers not presently part of our institutional narrative. 

We are immensely grateful for President Crutcher’s steadfast leadership in advancing the University’s commitment to ensuring a more inclusive University community and for the expectations our students have established for our community. We remain committed to continuing this work.

Board of Trustees, University of Richmond