Dear UC Community,
I am writing today regarding the legacy of Charles McMicken.
In 2019, I recommended to the Board of Trustees we remove McMicken’s name from the College of Arts & Sciences. My rationale for this recommendation can be viewed here.
This recommendation was supported by the findings of a special university-wide working group—comprised of faculty, staff, students, alumni and supporters—that studied McMicken’s historical affiliation with the College. I want to take this opportunity to once again thank the working group and its co-chairs, Lou Bilionis and Janet Reid, for producing such a thoughtful report.
The Board of Trustees voted unanimously to remove McMicken’s name from the College’s identity as an academic unit. This action was a critical step on our journey to becoming a more diverse, inclusive and welcoming community. It was followed by UC Foundation’s decision to remove McMicken’s name from its honorary societies and scholarships.
Since then, our times have changed. Our nation’s soul has been tested yet again. We have witnessed tragedy after heart-wrenching tragedy—lives lessened or lost due to hate, injustice, inequality and exclusion. As some communities rise together to fight racism, others are being ripped apart by it. We cannot allow division or despair to define our nation, much less our campus community. We must act.
As the writer Paulo Coelho reminds us, the world is changed by our example, not by our opinion.
I have spoken with several members of our campus community on how we, together, can best nurture and support a culture of inclusion moving forward. Though the audiences differ, the message remains much the same: the prominence of McMicken’s name on campus, and the symbolism of exclusion it represents, is holding us back from creating and sustaining a full sense of belonging for all.
Tomorrow I will ask the Board of Trustees to help us take another pivotal step on our journey forward. I will recommend we remove McMicken’s name in all uses, effective immediately, including from McMicken Hall, McMicken Commons, McMicken Circle and Mick & Mack’s Contemporary Café.
For the time being, I recommend these spaces be rebranded as follows: Arts & Sciences Hall, Bearcats Commons, University Circle and Bearcats Café. I also recommend we upgrade our digital displays to better reflect McMicken’s legacy and the university’s complex historical connection to him.
I want to say a few words about our enduring commitment to inclusive excellence.
Inclusive excellence is a core pillar of our Next Lives Here strategic direction. There is a reason for that. Because there is no innovation without inclusion, no impact without inclusion, no next without inclusion. Inclusive excellence is a winning strategy we must pursue every day with unapologetic vigor.
More than a value we hold, inclusion is a call to action we share. It moves us. It binds us. It humbles us. It widens us. It propels us. It makes us strive for more—more show than tell, more community than collection, more leading than following, more now than ever.
Inclusion doesn’t allow us to remain unchanged. It’s like our best teacher on their best day, pushing us to reach beyond our limited perspective to the higher ideals of humanity.
UC’s future is bright. Brighter still is the opportunity for us to come together and change more than a name. Let’s positively change the lived experience for everyone who wants to feel a true and full sense of belonging on our campus.
My heartfelt thanks to each of you for making UC a more vibrant, welcoming and supportive community for all. Indeed, from our unity comes our strength. Juncta Juvant.
Neville G. Pinto