The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) Board of Trustees voted that the university’s historic facility no longer be named Aycock Auditorium at its meeting on Thursday, Feb. 18.

The change comes after more than a year of extensive research and evaluation by the campus community, including the board and its appointed committees, into the statewide concern surrounding buildings named in recognition of Charles B. Aycock, who served as governor of North Carolina from 1901 to 1905.

In naming the auditorium, Aycock was recognized for his leadership and support for public education in North Carolina, including his support for the women’s college in Greensboro. Over the past several years, questions have been raised regarding the appropriateness of this name on several North Carolina campuses in light of Aycock’s beliefs and actions regarding race. Of special concern has been his support of white supremacy and his role in the disenfranchisement of black voters in the early 1900s.

The decision dates back to September 2014, when a board of trustees subcommittee requested that a university ad hoc committee be established to explore the historical connection between Aycock and UNCG, monitor progress of other campuses considering renaming buildings and research renaming processes followed by other institutions. In the spring of 2015, the Aycock Ad Hoc Committee hosted two public forums and created an online survey for the UNCG community and the public to express feedback. The ad hoc committee presented its report to the board of trustees in May.

After the ad hoc committee fulfilled its charge, the board formed a subcommittee composed of trustees, faculty, staff, students and community representatives to review the report, seek additional information as needed and provide a recommendation. The subcommittee, chaired by UNCG trustee Brad Hayes, met multiple times over the course of the year and invited a panel of experts to present the history of former Governor Aycock.

“This has been an extensive process undertaken by our board and the Aycock subcommittee,” said Board Chair Susan Safran. “The board performed extraordinary due diligence in examining the history and relevance of this decision. I want to thank the subcommittee members and others who participated in the open dialogue and contributed to the educational process.”

At the conclusion of its morning meeting, the subcommittee issued the following recommendation: “The Subcommittee respectfully recommends that the auditorium facility no longer be named Aycock Auditorium.”

The findings for the recommendation are as follows: “The Subcommittee finds that while Governor Charles B. Aycock had many accomplishments, Governor Aycock’s beliefs, actions, and resulting reputation related to matters of racial discrimination are contrary to the best interests of the University given its current mission and values.”

The Advancement Committee, acting as a committee of the whole, met in the afternoon. Following additional discussion and deliberation, the board voted unanimously to rename the auditorium.

“I would like to thank the subcommittee and the board for their thoughtful consideration of this matter,” said UNCG Chancellor Franklin Gilliam Jr. “I agree that this course of action is in the best interest of the university, and I am hopeful that the conversations begun during this process have formed a foundation for continuing thoughtful dialogue.”

The decision to rename the auditorium is not an erasure of history on the UNCG campus. At the direction of the board, UNCG’s Dr. Benjamin Filene, a public historian and expert museum developer, and graduate students in the university’s Museum Studies Program will begin planning an educational component that will provide a multifaceted history of Aycock. Proposals will be submitted to the board for review. Given that the project is ongoing, a target date for implementation has yet to be determined.

In the near future, the board will determine a process for permanently renaming the auditorium. During this period, facilities and communications staff will implement a plan to address signage and other references to the building.

Several universities across the state and the country have also taken steps to review building naming and take appropriate action. Last year, Duke University and East Carolina University removed Aycock’s name from residence halls on their respective campuses. UNC Chapel Hill also announced that the former Saunders Hall, named for Klu Klux Klan leader William Saunders, would be renamed to Carolina Hall.