U of A Forms Committee to Evaluate J. William Fulbright's Presence on Campus
A new University of Arkansas committee will explore former U.S. Sen. J. William Fulbright's controversial and complex legacy and help determine whether or not the campus statue that bears his likeness should remain and if the college that bears his name should continue to do so. The committee will also be asked to consider the renaming of Charles Hillman Brough Commons.
The committee will begin meeting in August and will hold several virtual meetings throughout the fall semester. The 20-member committee was formed this summer in response to calls to reexamine how the university recognizes and honors Fulbright.
Student committee members include Braziel Hatch, Tyrah Jackson, Tamara Kuykendall, Julia Nall, Johnathan Valley and Daniel Webster. Faculty committee members include Caree Banton, Stephen Caldwell, Gerald Jordan, Violeta Lorenzo, Michael Pierce, Luis Restrepo and Jeannie Whayne.
Staff committee members include Adrain Smith and Trish Watkins, and alumni and community committee members include Woody Bassett, Tony Hui, Janis Kearney, Daniel McFarland and Shambrekia Wise.
Dean Todd Shields and associate dean Calvin White, Jr., both of the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, will serve as non-voting facilitators of the committee.
"The committee will consult with noted Fulbright biographers, distinguished historians, and scholars who study race, art in public places and other related topics," Shields said.
"They'll also meet with the leadership of the Associated Student Government and other student groups, with the executive committees for U of A's faculty and staff senates, with members of the alumni board, with leaders from other campuses who are having similar discussions, and anyone else with whom the committee would like to speak."
Additionally, the committee will also invite any interested parties in the general public to provide their feedback using this online form. More information about how to reach the committee will soon be posted to the college's website at fulbright.uark.edu/diversity.
Shields said the committee's main goal will be to form a complete understanding of Fulbright's role and presence on the U of A campus by gathering multiple and differing constituency views, and to ultimately provide a recommendation to the Chancellor for how and if Fulbright's presence should be recognized on campus.
"We'll ask committee members to approach this project with an objective and open mind, to be willing to consider multiple perspectives, and to make the best recommendation for the campus," Shields said, adding that recent Town Hall and Alumni Lunch and Learn meetings have helped provide background for the conversations the committee will have.
In these meetings, Shields and others have discussed the life and legacy of J. William Fulbright, who was a U of A student who graduated in 1925. Fulbright was later a law professor and then became U of A president from 1939-41 - all prior to serving as a U.S. Senator for 30 years.
More information about J. William Fulbright can also be found in the University of Arkansas Libraries' Special Collection of J. William Fulbright Papers online.
Shields said after reviewing all feedback, the committee will make its recommendation to the Chancellor for next steps concerning the statue and college name.
"This is an important conversation for us to have, especially on a college campus where we value this exact type of debate, learning and growth," Shields said. "It is our great hope that the committee will help us determine the best way forward, and that together as a college, university, and community we will continue to strive to create an even better future for us all."
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