The University of Arkansas Board of Trustees will meet at 11 a.m Wednesday to consider System President Donald Bobbitt’s recommendation for dealing with tributes to former Sen. J. William Fulbright on the Fayetteville.
In a letter to the Board, he endorses former Chancellor Joseph Steinmetz’s recommendation to keep Fulbright’s name on the college of arts and sciences but rejects his recommendation to move a Fulbright statute from its place by Old Main to another location with more context on Fulbright’s history, including opposition to school desegregation.
However, since Act 1003 of 2021 prevents removing or relocating monuments on public property absent receipt of a waiver from the Arkansas History Commission, I believe the statue should be contextualized in its current location. If a path presents itself at a later time to consider the relocation of the statue that is consistent with state law, the Board can revisit this issue.
He did agree with Steinmetz’s agreement with a study committee that former Gov. Charles Brough’s name should be removed from a campus dining hall. Brough supported troops who slaughtered Black people in the Elaine massacre.
Bobbitt asks approval of two resolutions:
The first resolution regarding the Fulbright name and statue affirms the name of the Fulbright College because of its association with promoting international understanding and world peace through education. The resolution acknowledges that Act 1003 of 2021 prevents moving or relocating monuments on public property and directs the University to add contextualization to the Fulbright statue in its current location “that affirms the University’s commitment to racial equality and acknowledges Senator Fulbright’s complex legacy, including his record on international affairs, Civil Rights legislation, and racial integration.”
The second resolution discusses the concerns regarding the naming of Brough Commons, including the limited connection of Governor Brough to the University and its students, faculty and staff, and directs that the name be removed from the dining facility.
You can read the full background at this link to documents on the Board’s agenda.
You can find here a way to register to watch the meeting on Zoom.
A campus committee had recommended removing Fulbright’s name from the college and moving the statue. Even the compromise Steinmetz proposed met harsh response from legislators, shortly before his unexplained and hasty departure as chancellor. Will the removal of Brough’s name be viewed as falling under the new law?
The Board includes an executive session. There’s no mention on the agenda if this could include a recommendation from Bobbit on an interim chancellor at Fayetteville. Bill Kincaid, the campus legal counsel, has been acting as chancellor in what Bobbitt had said would be a short period.