Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., has announced that it is changing the names of two buildings on campus. Mulledy Hall and McSherry Hall were both named after former presidents of the university.
In 1838, Father Thomas F. Mulledy authorized the sale of 272 slaves owned by the Society of Jesus in Maryland to a slaveowner in Louisiana in order to alleviate the university’s debt. Current Georgetown University President John J. DiGioia has stated that “though Father Mulledy contributed much to our university, his actions represent a difficult past that is contrary to the values and mission of our University — a mission that we affirm and seek to strengthen in our examination of this history and its impact on our current moment.”
William McSherry, another former president of the university, also sold slaves and advised Father Mulledy on the 1838 sale.
President DiGioia announced on November 14 that Mulledy Hall, a student dormitory on campus, would now be called Freedom Hall. McSherry Hall, which houses a meditation center on campus, will now be known as Remembrance Hall. Both names have been changed on an interim basis until a decision has been made on permanent names for the facilities.
President DiGioia stated that “as a University, we are a place where conversations are convened and dialogue is encouraged, even on topics that may be difficult. This is what we will continue to do at Georgetown. We are supportive of our students and proud of the depth of their engagement in these urgent conversations. These issues require the very best of each of us and call us to continue to come together as a community to engage this important work.”