Washington & Lee University will not change its name following trustees vote

Virginia News

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Washington & Lee University in Lexington will continue to operate by that name in the future following a 22-6 vote by the school’s board of trustees to keep the name as-is.

The 1,860-student private school, whose campus neighbors Virginia Military Institute, spent almost a year evaluating its connections to former general of the confederacy and university namesake Robert E. Lee. This stemmed from protests and calls for justice and social change that emerged following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May.

“Over the past year, we have engaged in deliberations over these requests and other important issues relating to the diversity and inclusion on campus,” a statement from the W&L board of trustees said. “We have been guided by our responsibility to ensure the university’s future success in a complex and changing world.”

While the institution’s name will not change, Washington & Lee will be moving forward with investing $225 million in student scholarships, ensuring an internship or equivalent experience for every W&L student, and enhancing the university’s curriculum.

Additionally, the school will be making changes to diplomas issued to graduates, which traditionally featured the faces of George Washington and Robert E. Lee, renaming Lee Chapel to “University Chapel, along with making interior changes physically separating the chapel’s auditorium from the Lee family crypt and memorial sculpture and discontinuing the school’s Founders Day which traditionally was held on Lee’s birthday.

“We have been moved by listening to members of our community recount painful experiences at Washington and Lee,” the trustees statement said. “Your stories have deepened our appreciation of the urgency of taking meaningful, substantive action.”

Check out the full statement on the decision on the Washington & Lee website.

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