Princeton to Rename Spaces for T. Morrison, Sir A. Lewis

| May 3, 2017
lewis morrison
Nobel Laureates Sir Arthur Lewis (L) and Toni Morrison (R)

In a press release Tuesday, the University announced that it will rename West College and the major auditorium in Robertson Hall of the Wilson School in honor of University Professor Emerita Toni Morrison and Nobel Laureate and former University Professor Sir Arthur Lewis, respectively. The new names will take effect on July 1, 2017.

The University Board of Trustees approved the recommendations from the Council of the Princeton University Community Committee on Naming, composed of faculty, students, staff, and alumni. The committee was proposed in response to protests and student activism largely led by the Black Justice League, which has encouraged the University to be more welcoming to students of color, particularly black students on campus. The committee was established in September of last year.

West College, one of the most prominent buildings on campus, was originally a dormitory when first built in 1836. According to the press release, the present name of the auditorium, which is currently named for former University President Harold Dodds, GS Class of 1914, will be transferred to “the adjacent atrium that serves as the entryway into Robertson Hall.”

Morrison, a winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, was the first African American to receive this award and, the press release notes, was instrumental in helping “to attract other faculty and students of color to Princeton.” Her books include “Song of Solomon,” “Beloved,” and “The Bluest Eye.” She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012, the nation’s highest civilian honor. Additionally, her papers have recently been opened for research in the University library.

Lewis, who started working as a professor of public and international affairs in 1963 at the University, later worked as a professor of political economics, teaching economic development and economic history. In 1963, Lewis was knighted, and in 1979, he won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his work in economic development, particularly concerning developing countries. According to the press release, “[Lewis] remains the only person of African descent to win a Novel Prize in a field other than Literature or Peace.” Lewis also served as economic adviser to the government of Ghana after it achieved independence in 1957, and he has also consulted nations such as Trinidad and Tobago, the press release states.

Professor Lewis, a native of St. Lucia,  was the first person of African descent to be appointed a professor in Great Britain’s university system. Lewis died in 1991.


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