University President Teresa Sullivan recently announced her intention to create the President’s Commission on the University in the Age of Segregation, an initiative that will begin its work this spring and continue under President-Elect Jim Ryan when he takes office in October.
According to remarks made by Sullivan at UVa’s School of Law, this commission will “explore and report on UVa’s role in the period of racial segregation that occurred in the 19th and 20th centuries.”
The work of the President’s Commission on the University in the Age of Segregation will function in conjunction with the President’s Commission on Slavery and the University, an effort launched in 2013 committed to exploring UVa’s historical relationship to slavery.
One of the most prominent results of the slavery commission’s work is its recommendation to create the Memorial to Enslaved Laborers at the University, for which fundraising efforts are currently ongoing.
Approved by the University Board of Visitors in June 2017, the design for this memorial will feature a large circular stone memorial onto which the names of those enslaved people who labored at the University will be inscribed. The memorial is to be located in the grassy areas east of Brooks Hall and across from the Corner.
As UVa continues to celebrate its bicentennial, the President’s Commission on the University in the Age of Segregation will operate as part of the University’s effort to document and narrate its history over the past 200 years.
“As with many universities and many states at the time, UVa and the Commonwealth of Virginia were involved in segregation and other practices related to racial inequality,” Sullivan said.
President Sullivan specifically mentioned Charlottesville’s participation in the “Massive Resistance” movement, during which public schools in the 1950s in Virginia closed to prevent desegregation.
Like the President’s Commission on Slavery and the University, this new commission intends to provide advice and recommendations to the President regarding the appropriate documentation and memorialization of the University’s history.
Jon Bowen, Chief of Staff to President Sullivan, is currently accepting nominations by email for commission membership from faculty, staff, students, and members of the surrounding community. Those interested should submit a paragraph to Bowen explaining why the nominee is appropriate for membership with the subject line “Commission Nomination.”