Simkins Hall Name Should Be Changed, UT President Decides

Accepting the recommendation of an advisory panel, UT president Bill Powers says that the name of a residence hall named for a professor who had Ku Klux Klan ties should be changed.

There will be no battle over whom to name the dorm after next, though — Powers will urge UT System regents to approve its renaming to Creekside Dormitory and Creekside Park, the University announced Friday.

The name will be a throwback in another way — the student housing industry has come to prefer the term “residence hall” to “dormitory,” and few new halls today include the word “dormitory” in their name.

The change comes after the hall’s namesake, William Stewart Simkins, was suddenly and widely reported to have been a founder of the KKK in Florida. 

The finding sparked a debate about whether this sort of honorific for Simkins, who was a UT law professor from 1899 to 1929, was appropriate on the contemporary campus.

The advisory group, led by UT vice president of diversity and community engagement Gregory Vincent, found the name inconsistent with the University’s modern values, Vincent said.

He and Powers repeatedly highlighted the importance of diversity and inclusiveness to UT as they issued their statement.

A building name change must be approved by the regents, and Powers will present his recommendation to the group at its next meeting. 

Photo by Valerie Cook/The Alcalde.



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