BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Board of Regents has endorsed MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee’s request to rename Forrest Hall.
In a voice vote Friday, June 24, during their quarterly meeting at Northeast State Community College in Blountville, regents endorsed MTSU’s proposal to change the name of the facility named for Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest to the Army ROTC Building.
The TBR decision allows MTSU to petition the Tennessee Historical Commission to change the name of the building, which houses the university’s Army Reserve Officer Training Corps program and was dedicated with the Forrest moniker in 1958. The Historical Commission must approve the removal of the name by a two-thirds vote.
The process began last summer when McPhee appointed a task force to review the building’s name following a mass shooting at a historically black South Carolina church that prompted a national discussion about Confederate iconography on public property.
The 17-member task force held three public forums and two open deliberations before making its recommendation in April to rename the building.
While noting that the task force recommendation was not unanimous and included “strong dissent” from a few members, McPhee also pointed out in his remarks to the TBR that under the board’s current criteria, Forrest would not be eligible to have his name placed on any university building.
McPhee noted that in considering the task force’s recommendation, he asked himself would the university of the 21st century make the same decision on naming the building as was made in 1958.
“In 2016, we are a different institution compared to the 1950s,” he said. “In 2016, we are Middle Tennessee State University, a very diverse institution, with approximately 23,000 students and over 115,000 alumni, representing every state in the Union and countries around the world.
“We are a truly global citizen and our actions should reflect the global community that we now serve.”
For more information about the Forrest Hall issue, visit www.mtsu.edu/forresthall.