The University of Virginia Board of Visitors on Friday approved a resolution to remove the Withers name from the Law School’s Withers-Brown Hall, as part of the University’s ongoing re-examination of its historic landscape.

The resolution marks the conclusion of a process that began this summer of examining one of the hall’s namesakes, Confederate soldier Henry Malcolm Withers, who studied at UVA Law from 1868-70. In June, Law School Dean Risa Goluboff appointed an ad hoc committee of alumni, faculty, students and staff to research Withers and the naming of the hall. After posting the findings on a website and seeking and receiving public comments, the committee recommended removal of the Withers name. Goluboff then submitted the committee’s report, along with her own executive summary, to the UVA Committee on Names, in accordance with the University’s Naming Policies.

Withers, a member of Mosby’s Raiders, a cavalry unit that conducted irregular warfare, “was a regular speaker at Confederate veterans’ events, glorifying the Lost Cause and expressing his belief that black Americans were inferior to whites,” the resolution said.

In her executive summary, Goluboff noted that changing the name also was consistent with Gov. Ralph Northam’s request to the state’s public school boards “to change schools names and mascots that memorialize Confederate leaders or sympathizers,” and with similar calls by Congress and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Of the 825 comments submitted through the website, most of which were from alumni, 84% supported removing the Withers name.

After receiving the committee’s report and executive summary, the Committee on Names voted in favor of removing the name and forwarded their endorsement to UVA President Jim Ryan ’92 last month. Ryan approved the request and submitted the matter to the Board of Visitors. 

Withers Hall, part of the school’s eastern wing now comprising Withers-Brown Hall, was named in 1981 when Withers’ daughter, Lacy Withers Armour, died. Her estate pledged $3 million for scholarships at UVA in honor of her father. To show appreciation for Armour’s generous bequest to the University, the Board of Visitors approved naming a portion of the first North Grounds law school building, built in 1974, Henry Malcolm Withers Hall. Along with a 1979 annex named after Walter L. Brown ’26, the wing was known in recent years as Withers-Brown Hall. The eastern wing of the school will now be referred to as Brown Hall.

The Law School will continue to honor Lacy Withers Armour’s gift through her named scholarship endowment.

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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