Hollins University Working Group on Slavery and its Contemporary Legacies

The Front Quad at Hollins Institute, 1861-1863. Courtesy of the Hollins Archives.

The Front Quad at Hollins Institute, 1861-1863. Courtesy of the Hollins Archives.

On Renaming Campus Spaces

One of the Working Group’s projects in 2021-22 is to provide support for the newly formed Reconciliation: Campus Spaces task force. The task force is charged with determining criteria for evaluating existing campus space names, and applying those criteria to make a recommendation regarding Tayloe Gymnasium to the Hollins Board of Trustees and to President Hinton.

In February 2022 the task force announced via email and made available via their web page (see the sidebar information) proposed criteria for evaluating the names of existing campus spaces.

Members of the task force were in attendance for a series of listening sessions available for students, faculty, staff, and alumnae/i; all members of the extended Hollins community were invited to offer their input. Once all shared input has been considered and processed, the task force will propose a finalized version of the criteria to President Hinton for her review and approval and to take to the Board of Trustees in May.

You can reach the task force at reconciliation@hollins.edu

Read more about the issue of (re)naming here.


Mission of the Working Group

The working group is charged by the university’s President with continuing to research and educate the public about Hollins University’s historical connections to enslavement and the contemporary legacies of slavery on campus, within the neighboring historic Hollins community, and throughout the Greater Roanoke Valley. The group’s membership is comprised of interested faculty, alumnae, staff, students, and citizens from the historic Hollins community. The working group is an integral part of the university’s commitment to an open and honest dialogue about race and diversity on our campus and in our region of Southwest Virginia. It represents an honest and transparent examination of who we are as an institution and what we hope to represent going forward. The group’s research highlights and memorializes the many contributions made by people of color both before and after emancipation in building a sustainable and thriving university community. As part of this continuing project, the mission of the working group is as follows:

  • To engage in archival research and archaeological studies focused on histories and legacies of enslavement on campus and to uncover documents, specific names, and oral histories related to African-American history and memory at Hollins University.
  • To publish and archive documents related to enslavement and Jim Crow era history on campus online in an easily accessible public format.
  • To recommend the creation of a physical memorial that commemorates the history on our campus in ways that are visible, tangible, and permanent.
  • To encourage educational projects for students focused on enslavement and its legacies at Hollins University and within communities of the Greater Roanoke Valley.
  • To develop and promote strong community relations with the historic Hollins community and with the African American community in the Greater Roanoke Valley, and to involve them as active long term partners and participants in our work.
  • To remain active members and leaders within the Universities Studying Slavery consortium and to serve as a resource for other small colleges and universities beginning similar projects focused on histories of enslavement.

The working group is committed to an open and public dialogue with all members of the Hollins community. We will be joined in our efforts by alumnae and residents of the Greater Roanoke Valley with particular knowledge of local history and issues of race and diversity.

Hollins University is a member of Universities Studying Slavery (USS), a consortium dedicated to collaborative research and mutual support as participating colleges and universities seek to address their institutions’ histories of slavery, racism, and inequality. In April 2018, Hollins hosted the USS Spring meeting.

Join the working group

We welcome students, staff and faculty with an interest in furthering the mission and activities of the group. Email hhc@hollins.edu: we look forward to hearing from you!

Contact the working group

We welcome your comments, concerns, and suggestions. Email the group at hhc@hollins.edu, or use our contact form:

Page last updated: February 15, 2022.