Update on Calhoun Advisory Process

January 9, 2017

To the Yale Community,

I very much hope that the holiday break was a relaxing one for you. With the arrival of 2017, I am writing to provide an update concerning the possible renaming of Calhoun College, an issue about which faculty, alumni, staff, and students have expressed strong feelings for several years.

We are all grateful to Professor John Witt and the Committee to Establish Principles on Renaming, and I trust you have read the committee’s thorough and considered report, which establishes a strong presumption against changing building names and articulates a set of principles to apply when a renaming is considered. 

As you know from my earlier message, after receiving the report, I appointed three advisors—Len Baker ’64, a former member of the Yale Corporation and a Calhoun College alumnus; John Lewis Gaddis, the Robert A. Lovett Professor of History; and Jacqueline Goldsby, professor of English, of African American Studies, and of American Studies, and chair of the Department of African American Studies—to apply these principles to the name of John C. Calhoun.

I expect to receive the advisors’ recommendation soon and will then bring it to Yale’s board of trustees (formally called the Yale Corporation). The trustees and I will make a final decision, both on the question of whether to remove John C. Calhoun’s name from the residential college that bears it, and—if that question is answered in the affirmative—on the name that would replace Calhoun’s. I expect these matters to be discussed and decided upon in February.

In our discussions, the trustees and I will benefit greatly from several years’ worth of input from Yale students, faculty, staff, and alumni, who have produced thousands of messages on all sides of the naming/renaming question. If we decide to rename Calhoun College, we will also benefit from the hundreds of unique naming suggestions that have been made in response to several solicitations for the names of the new residential colleges. Individuals who have not yet taken the opportunity to provide input, or who have additional input, may share their thoughts by replying to this message.

The decision about whether to rename Calhoun College and, if warranted, about a new name, will be announced in February. I look forward to writing you again on this subject next month. 


Peter Salovey
President and Chris Argyris Professor of Psychology