Marshall board votes to remove name of Confederate general from building

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — With many new members on the board of governors since a 2019 vote to keep the name “Jenkins Hall’ on its education building, the Marshall University board of governors voted to remove the name during a special meeting on Tuesday.

The vote was unanimous for the building on the Huntington campus named after Albert Gallatin Jenkins, a general for the Confederate States of America, a slave owner from Cabell County and Marshall Academy graduate.

In February 2019, the board voted 9-7 to keep the name Jenkins Hall and place a display inside the building that denounced bigotry, prejudice and discrimination, and recognizing slavery’s lasting impact on society.

“Since that vote we have had nine new board members. Certainly, the composition of the board has changed and our society has changed somewhat,” Patrick Farrell, the chairman of the board said.

The previous push to change the name of the building started when a group of students came to Marshall President Jerome Gilbert with the idea. 10 student organizations spoke during meetings on the renaming in late 2018 and early 2019.

Gilbert formed a Presidential Committee to Examine Building Names. He quoted the policy at the university for building names on Tuesday, “This policy is designed to ensure that any unity or facility that is named at Marshall University honors individuals of extraordinary achievement and whose accomplishments are of enduring distinction and value.”

Jerome Gilbert

Gilbert said one building did not comply with that policy — Jenkins Hall.

“We not only examined the building names but we also examined the names on all the units, educational entities, facilities, and buildings at Marshall and we found one name that was inconsistent with the policy,” he said.

Board members issued the following statement after the vote:

“The Marshall University Board of Governors voted today to remove the name ‘Jenkins Hall’ from the Education Building. Upon the recommendation of President Jerome A. Gilbert, the board took this action to serve the university’s best interests.

“The board considered this issue last year and decided to allow the name to remain intact, while also reinforcing the university’s commitment to the principles of diversity and the equal treatment of all people. A statement released on behalf of the board at that time read, ‘Marshall University will constantly confront and challenge bigotry, intolerance and unwarranted discrimination in all of their manifestations.’

“Our board reaffirmed that commitment today by voting, not to erase history, but simply to no longer honor a man whose accomplishments do not provide the university with enduring value.

“Removing the name will allow the board at a future date to honor someone who has made a significant and far-reaching impact on Marshall University through extraordinary public service, service to the university or a major monetary gift.

The Board of Governors has carefully considered the name of every other campus building and concluded that this is the final step in a thoughtful, university-wide effort to make sure the people we honor represent the ideals of equality and justice embodied by Chief Justice John Marshall.”

University officials said the building will be known as the Education Building for the time being and a new name will be determined at a later date.

Five new board members were sworn in by Chief Circuit Judge of Cabell County Gregory L. Howard at Tuesday’s meeting.

The new members are as follows:

·         Kathy D’Antoni of Cabell County succeeds Timothy Dagostine. D’Antoni lives in Barboursville and is a recently retired education administrator.

·         Donald R. Holcomb of Raleigh County succeeds Gary White. Holcomb lives in Daniels and is co-owner of Mountaineer Automotive.

·         Angel R. Moore of Kanawha County succeeds James Bailes. Moore lives in Charleston and is an attorney.

·         Samuel R. Moore of Cabell County succeeds Christie Kinsey. Moore lives in Huntington and is a minister.

·         Anna Williams of Cabell County is the new student representative to the board. Williams lives in Huntington and is a senior majoring in public communication and English.

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