Committee on building names to meet Nov. 28

November 23, 2018

HUNTINGTON — The Marshall University Presidential Committee to Examine Building Names will hold a public information session next week to discuss its process and an upcoming opportunity for people to provide input.

The information session will be at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 28, in Room BE-5 of the Memorial Student Center on the Huntington campus.

Marshall President Jerome Gilbert formed the committee in April in response to a student’s inquiry about the 1937 naming of the university’s Jenkins Hall for a Confederate Civil War general.

The president appointed 12 members to the committee, representing students, faculty, staff and the university’s board of governors. He charged the group with examining the names of all buildings on the Huntington campus to determine if contextualization or additional action is needed.

The committee, which is chaired by board of governors Secretary Christie Kinsey, will prepare a report and recommendations for Gilbert to share with the full board at its regular meeting on Feb. 28, 2019.

Next week’s public meeting will include a presentation about the committee and its purpose; historical information about Gen. Albert Gallatin Jenkins and the naming of Jenkins Hall; comments from representatives of various Marshall University student organizations and others; and an overview of the committee’s process for soliciting public comment on the matter next month.

Housing the College of Education and Professional Development, Jenkins Hall is named for Cabell County slave owner and Confederate Gen. Albert Gallatin Jenkins. Jenkins’ plantation off W.Va. 2 in Green Bottom still stands today and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The Jenkins family owned more than 50 slaves who worked the farm.

Jenkins attended Marshall Academy, later attending Harvard Law. He also served in the U.S. House of Representatives before leaving his seat when the Civil War started. Jenkins was elected captain of a volunteer company of riflemen from Cabell and Mason counties. He converted the members of the company into cavalrymen, gave them the name “Border Rangers” and arranged for their enlistment in the Confederate Army.

He briefly left the field to serve in the First Confederate Congress but returned to duty when he was promoted to brigadier general. He led a battalion of cavalry at the Battle of Gettysburg, where he was wounded. He eventually died in 1864 after being severely wounded and captured during the Battle of Cloyd’s Mountain. He’s buried in the Confederate plot at Spring Hill Cemetery in Huntington.

Students for a Democratic Society at Marshall has led the recent push to rename the building.

“The Jenkins Hall campaign isn’t just about the name of a racist memorialized in a building; it’s about having a conversation about who we choose to honor as a campus and a community,” said John Ross, SDS president, earlier in the year.

The idea of changing the name has been both supported and criticized. A letter of support from alumni circulated, while several others have said it’s an attempt to “rewrite” history or not worth the time.

For those unable to attend the public meeting in person, the session will be recorded and a link posted on the committee’s website at www.marshall.edu/president/building-names.

There will be a public comment period from Dec. 3-14. A link to the online comment form and instructions will be made available on the website following the public meeting.

For more information, email buildingnames@marshall.edu.

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