Legacy Review Task Force Report

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Dear WWU Community,

During the 2020-21 academic year, in consultation with the Board of Trustees, I appointed a Legacy Review Task Force to examine the history and significance of building and college names on Western’s Bellingham campus with a charge to reconcile the institution’s contemporary commitment to equity, inclusion and social justice with an honest assessment of our historical context. 

Last month, the task force submitted a report and recommendations on four named features: Huxley College of the Environment, Mathes Hall, Haggard Hall, and the Viking Union. The chair and members of the task force dedicated countless hours to this project, which included conducting their own research of additional university archival materials, and a review of similar legacy review processes and principles of de-naming at other institutions.  They also held open forums to seek input from the Western community. To better understand the legacy of Thomas Henry Huxley, in particular, the task force invited four scholars with expertise on Huxley and the intellectual history of his era to share their understandings of his legacy with respect to race.

The Board of Trustees and I appreciate the work of the task force and we thank the task force members for their time, effort and commitment on this complex review process. 

The task force report is now posted on the Legacy Review Task Force page. It is not unusual for task force members entrusted with such a review to have differences of opinion. In addition to the task force report, letters from two committee members sent to me and the Board representing dissenting opinions regarding two of the features in question are also posted at this web link. We understand that the task force was aware that those letters would be separately submitted to us.

Members of the Board of Trustees and I look forward to a thorough evaluation of the recommendations of the task force. We expect to make a decision during the 2021-22 academic year.

In closing, the Trustees and I express our appreciation to the task force for leading this assessment and to members of the community and others who have participated in this important process.


Sabah Randhawa