Sunday, February 12, 2017

Yale: Welcome to Grace Murray Hopper College

Yale's Calhoun College will be renamed in honor of Grace Murray Hopper!

This is fantastic news for a couple of important reasons. First, the college will no longer be named after John C. Calhoun, an outspoken pro-slavery politician and 7th VP of the US. According to Yale President Peter Salovey, "The decision to change a college’s name is not one we take lightly, but John C. Calhoun’s legacy as a white supremacist and a national leader who passionately promoted slavery as a 'positive good' fundamentally conflicts with Yale’s mission and values." I am an advocate of being honest in any assessment of celebrated historical figures, and I try to hold our historical heroes accountable for their racism, classism, and colonialism while still celebrating their accomplishments. But some folks are just too wrong to make up for anything good they managed to accomplish. John Calhoun is one of those people.

But on to the good news! Yale has decided to rename the college after one of my favorite amazing women from history: Grace Hopper! President Salovey said the response to a request for suggested names to replace Calhoun was overwhelmingly in her favor, saying "Hopper's name was mentioned by more individuals than any other, reflecting the strong feeling within our community that her achievements and life of service reflect Yale's mission and core values."

I'll say! Grace Hopper earned her master's and Ph.D. in mathematics at Yale. As an alumna, she was awarded the Wilbur Lucius Cross Medal in 1972. President Salovey praised her work, saying "An extraordinary mathematician and a senior naval officer, Hopper achieved eminence in fields historically dominated by men. Today, her principal legacy is all around us — embodied in the life-enhancing technology she knew would become commonplace. Grace Murray Hopper College thus honors her spirit of innovation and public service while looking fearlessly to the future."

She truly is a remarkable woman and an excellent role model for future generations of Yalies. And everyone else.

The full Yale announcement
Amazing Grace Hopper: life advice from a remarkable woman"

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