Committee Explores Renaming Withers Hall

Withers Hall

Henry Malcolm Withers Hall, the North Grounds’ first building, was named in 1984. Photo by Bill Bergen

July 20, 2020

An ad hoc committee appointed by the dean of the University of Virginia School of Law is exploring whether to recommend that the University rename Withers Hall, which is named after former Confederate soldier Henry Malcolm Withers, and is seeking community input.

This summer, Dean Risa Goluboff appointed a committee of Law School alumni, faculty, staff and students to recommend whether Henry Malcolm Withers’ name should be removed from the Law School’s building. Withers Hall is the school’s original building on North Grounds, built in 1974 and named in 1984. Today the building is often referred to as Withers-Brown Hall. Walter L. Brown Hall, a 1979 addition that joins Withers Hall, is not under consideration for renaming.

The dean charged the committee with recommending whether she should pursue, through established University channels, the removal of Withers’ name from the building. In keeping with University policies and guidelines, the dean further charged the committee to make its historical research publicly available and to seek community input.

The committee engaged a historical consultant, who conducted primary and secondary historical research. A website presents the results of that research, which the committee has already reviewed, and includes a form for community feedback.

“We invite the community to weigh in on both the research and the question of whether Withers’ name should remain on Withers Hall,” said F. Blair Wimbush ’80, chair of the committee and chair of the Law School Foundation’s Board of Trustees.

That community input will inform the committee’s recommendation to the dean and will be included in the committee’s final report on whether to move forward with recommending to the University’s Committee on Names that Withers Hall be renamed, a process governed by the University’s naming policies.

Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.

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