NEPTUNE, NJ – The Woodrow Wilson Hall at Monmouth University has been renamed. The new name is the Great Hall at Shadow Lawn. The change came at a board of trustees meeting last week.
Wilson was a Democrat and the 28th president of the United States who is considered to be one of the most progressive presidents of all time. Wilson was also the 34th Governor of New Jersey. He was also president of Princeton University. Wilson is one of only two New Jersey residents to have been elected President of the United States. The other was Grover Cleveland. The university considers the building the centerpiece of the campus.
“On this Juneteenth 2020 – a day when we celebrate the end of slavery in the U.S. – we continue to seek ways to foster a genuinely fair, inclusive, and supportive community for all. Through numerous conversations with students, faculty, staff, and alumni over the past few weeks, one thing is clear: we must do more, especially as we prepare to enroll this fall our most diverse incoming class ever” said University President Dr. Patrick Leahy. “To that end, our Board of Trustees advanced the University’s commitment to ensuring a diverse and inclusive community.”
The Board voted unanimously to remove Woodrow Wilson’s name from our marquee building and then voted to rename the building – the Great Hall at Shadow Lawn. Wilson was a controversial politician, who never actually set foot in the current building.
“Removing his name, and incorporating these earlier names, connects the centerpiece of our campus more accurately to our historical roots and eliminates a symbolic barrier to the important work of creating a truly welcoming and inclusive space in the Great Hall,” Leahy said. “In support of that goal, we will accelerate our existing plans to reestablish the Great Hall as a true hub of activity for our students, outfitting the main areas with study tables and gathering spaces, opening a coffee bar on the main floor, and generally making it more inviting to students in an effort to build community in the heart of our campus. The Board has also directed the administration to take action to honor the contributions of Julian Abele, one of the first professionally trained African American architects, who was the lead designer of the Great Hall.”
The Board also voted unanimously to establish a permanent endowment to support the University’s diversity initiatives, dedicating $3 million in inaugural funds for this purpose. In addition, growing the size of this fund will become a key philanthropic priority for the University’s next fundraising campaign, which will launch in the years ahead. This restricted endowment will support diversity programming and educational initiatives, curricular and co-curricular integration, diverse faculty and staff recruitment, and other related efforts, all aimed at cultivating a welcoming and inclusive campus environment for all members of our University community.
“As we have previously made clear, our University has not yet met our goals for diversity and inclusion,” Leahy added. “These initiatives represent just a few ways that the Board of Trustees can support our ongoing efforts. We know you share our appreciation for the Board’s vital leadership in this area. Expect to hear more from the administration in the weeks ahead as we develop a comprehensive plan with ongoing input from student, faculty, staff, and alumni leadership.”