Department of Mathematics and Statistics supports renaming of campus buildings


We, as members of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at James Madison University, strongly support the recent announcement by JMU President Alger that he is recommending to the Board of Visitors the immediate removal of the names on Jackson, Maury, and Ashby Halls. We acknowledge and appreciate the scholarly perspective provided by colleagues from other disciplines, such as History, Political Science, and Justice Studies, who have documented how these names were chosen during JMU’s early history as a segregated school and in the context of the Lost Cause movement. We hear and recognize the voices of students, alumni, faculty, and staff who declare that the memorializing of Confederate civil war leaders as embodied physically as names on buildings serves as an ongoing act of violence in the name of white supremacy.

James Madison University declares that it seeks to embody core values that include Academic Quality, Community, Diversity, Excellence, Integrity, and Student Focus. While all of these values are impacted by this issue, addressing the overdue need to remove names memorializing Confederate leaders is essential to live up to the values of Community, Diversity, and Integrity. Community calls us to respect others and appreciate our interconnectedness and opens our eyes to the harm inflicted by the perpetuation of Lost Cause icons. Diversity beckons us to demonstrate our value for all individuals, particularly the need to declare that Black Lives Matter, to create a truly inclusive community. Integrity demands us to act once our application of ethical reasoning leads us to the rational and moral conclusion that these campus names must change.

We further acknowledge that removing names memorializing Confederate leaders from our campus is a largely symbolic first step. We are committed within our department to reckon with our own intentional and unintentional actions that may have contributed to members of our learning community feeling that they do not belong. In particular, we pledge our efforts toward increasing successful participation and belonging by individuals from historically under-represented communities.

Signed (in alphabetical order)

Elizabeth Brown, Associate Professor
David Carothers, Professor
Lihua Chen, Associate Professor
Beth Cochran, Assistant Professor
Joshua Ducey, Associate Professor
Rebecca Field, Associate Professor
Heena Gandhi, Visiting Assistant Professor
Steve Garren, Professor
Jennifer Gibson, Instructor
Nusrat Jahan, Associate Professor
Peter Kohn, Professor
LouAnn Lovin, Professor and Interim Department Chair
Stephen Lucas, Professor
Minah Oh, Associate Professor
Travis A Olson, Visiting Assistant Professor
Edwin O’Shea, Associate Professor
C. David Pruett, Emeritus Professor 
Katie Quertermous, Associate Professor 
Jason Rosenhouse, Professor 
John (Zig) Siegfried, Associate Professor 
Alexis Stevens, Associate Professor  
Laura Taalman, Professor 
Roger Thelwell, Associate Professor 
D. Brian Walton, Professor 
Debra Warne, Professor 
Paul Warne, Professor 
John Webb, Associate Professor 
Cassie Williams, Associate Professor 
Chris Willingham, Assistant Professor 
Celes Woodruff, Assistant Professor

Note: This statement is endorsed by the individuals who sign it, not by an academic unit, office, center, or other entity affiliated with James Madison University. We are confident that other members of our community support this statement, but they may not have been able to indicate their support on short notice.

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Published: Thursday, July 2, 2020

Last Updated: Wednesday, August 5, 2020

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