#Clemson University REMOVES John C. Calhoun’s name from Honors College, asks to rename Tillman Hall! [DETAILS]

The Clemson University Board of Trustees has voted to remove John C. Calhoun’s name from the Honors College and has requested the state Legislature to empower the school to rename Tillman Hall to its original name, Old Main.

In a Friday morning vote, the board unanimously voted to remove Calhoun from the Honors College as recommended by Provost Bob Jones. The college was immediately rebranded The Clemson University Honors College.

All 13 trustees voted in favor and five emeritus trustees who are former board members supported the changes, board Chairman Smythe McKissick said.

“Clemson must also recognize that there are central figures in Clemson’s history whose beliefs and actions do not represent the university’s core values … and as our values guide us, we are listening,” McKissick said.

The vote came on the heels of a petition and revived fight to remove the name of Calhoun — a slave owner and secessionist whose plantation became Clemson University — that drew nearly 20,000 signatures and the support of Clemson football alumni Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins.

All 13 trustees voted in favor and five emeritus trustees who are former board members supported the changes, board Chairman Smythe McKissick said.

Board member Bob Peeler also introduced a resolution to ask the South Carolina Legislature to grant a one-time authority for the board to rename Tillman Hall.

Benjamin “Pitchfork” Tillman was a governor and white supremacist whose name adorns Clemson’s most iconic building.

The building’s name is subject to the state’s Heritage Act, which requires a two-thirds vote of the General Assembly to change any aspect of historical structures.

The university anticipates the request to be considered in 2021, when the new legislative session commences, said university President Jim Clements.

“We feel it important, however, to share our desires and respectfully request the General Assembly grant authority to the Board of Trustees of Clemson University to restore Tillman Hall to its original name of main building called Old Main,” Peeler said.

The university will not be asking for further exceptions from the act, Peeler said.

Clements said the university is asking the Legislature for an exemption on Tillman only because it is the school’s “signature building.”

For years, various groups of students have been working to remove the name, which was added in 1981, but national protests against police brutality and systemic racism have propelled the current call for a change to the national stage.

Hannah Connelly, a recent Clemson graduate who helped spearhead a push for the Calhoun name removal, said the change was a win for the group and illustrates a shift in thinking for university leadership.

“There seems to be a shift in how they’re understanding the history of Clemson,” Connelly said. “So they’re understanding that history is one thing, but choosing to honor certain parts of the history are a very different thing. And so for them to be able to make that sort of theoretical shift I think will open a lot of doors at Clemson.”

Michael LeMahieu, a faculty member who’s worked with students to remove Calhoun’s name for years, said the board showed “courageous leadership” in making the changes.


While the name change signals a victory for Clemson activists, Clemson history professor Abel Bartley said it’s “the lowest of low-hanging fruit” when it comes to actionable change at Clemson, especially since the Honors College has a low percentage of black students, he said.

“I think that for African Americans, it’s a symbolic gesture that really is kind of empty,” Bartley said. [Source:]


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