University of Richmond Changes Name of Its Law School Due to Benefactor’s Ties to Slavery

The board of trustees of the University of Richmond has voted to change the name of the institution’s law school. The T.C. Williams School of Law will now be known as the University of Richmond School of Law.

Williams was a student at what was then known as Richmond College in the late 1840s. He was later a trustee of the college. Williams operated a tobacco business in Richmond. The business owned more than 25 enslaved people. Williams personally enslaved three people, according to tax records. After his death in 1889, his family donated $25,000 which was used to help establish the law program at the college. The law school was named after Williams in 1920.

In March of this year, the university adopted the University of Richmond Naming Principles. The principles state that: “No building, program, professorship, or other entity at the university should be named for a person who directly engaged in the trafficking and/or enslavement of others or openly advocated for the enslavement of people.”

In announcing the change in the name of the law school, the board stated: “We recognize that some may be disappointed or disagree with this decision. We also recognize the role the Williams family has played here and respect the full and complete history of the institution. Consistent with the Naming Principles, we will preserve and make accessible a full historical record.”

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