Washington & Lee renames 2 buildings, makes changes at Lee Chapel

Washington & Lee renames 2 buildings, makes changes at Lee Chapel
Washington and Lee is making several changes on campus. (Source: Washington and Lee)

LEXINGTON, VA (WWBT) - Two buildings are getting new names at Washington and Lee University.

The Board of Trustees says on its website that it met this past weekend with students and faculty “to gather input from the campus community, which we considered along with feedback we received from many alumni who have communicated with us about these issues over the past several months.”

Robinson Hall will be renamed Chavis Hall, which the board says is “in recognition of the first African-American to receive a college education in the United States.”

John Chavis graduated from Washington and Lee’s predecessor, Washington Academy, in 1799.

Lee-Jackson House will be renamed Simpson House in recognition of the first woman to become a tenured professor at the university.

Pamela Hemenway Simpson served as associate dean of the college and played a critical role in the university’s transition to co-education in the mid-1980s, chairing the Co-Education Steering Committee from 1984 to 1986. She died in 2011.

The board also approved two changes at Lee Chapel, which take effect immediately:

  • Portraits of Robert E. Lee and George Washington in civilian clothing will replace the portraits of Lee and Washington in military uniforms that currently hang in Lee Chapel.
  • The doors to the statue chamber in the 1883 addition to Lee Chapel will be closed during university events.

“We want to express our gratitude to all of those members of the community who contributed to our deliberations, through countless letters and conversations over the summer and on campus this weekend,” the board said. “We are fortunate to be part of a community that cares deeply about this institution and is so dedicated to its continued success.”

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