Shenandoah University removes Byrd Jr.’s name from biz school
Late U.S. Sen. Harry F. Byrd Jr. was key player in Massive Resistance
Shenandoah University in Winchester announced Wednesday that its Board of Trustees has voted unanimously to remove the name of the late U.S. Sen. Harry F. Byrd Jr. from its School of Business and board room.
“At Shenandoah, we encourage the best, the brightest, the inspired, to come learn with us, in the spirit of equitable access for every one of our students,” said Board of Trustees Chairman Rob Frogale. “This decision today about the business school is reflective of our commitment to continuing efforts toward racial justice and equality for all.”
The move comes amid widespread national protests against racial injustice and police brutality, which were sparked by the May 25 police killing of Minneapolis man George Floyd.
In 1984, the Board of Trustees of Shenandoah College and Conservatory voted to name the business school after Winchester native and resident U.S. Sen. Harry F. Byrd Jr. A longtime state senator as well, Byrd was a distinguished lecturer at Shenandoah. He died in 2013.
Byrd was the son of former Virginia Gov. and U.S. Sen. Harry F. Byrd Sr., one of the key architects of the Massive Resistance movement to oppose desegregation of Virginia schools. Byrd Jr. was a key supporter of Massive Resistance and was a major player in the Byrd Machine, the Democratic political machine founded by his father and grandfather that dominated Virginia politics for much of the 20th century. He left the Democratic Party in 1970, becoming an independent due to the party’s leftward shift during the 1960s.
“The board and I understand that we cannot be an institution that serves all students equitably when our business school still holds the name of an individual who denied full integration of schools,” said Shenandoah University President Tracy Fitzsimmons. “Although we cannot change history, we have the power to build a better future in which everyone is treated with respect and receives the same opportunities, regardless of race or ethnicity. With life comes experiences, relationships and education that illuminate historical injustices and help us better understand the injustices in our world today. That is what has happened here at Shenandoah. It is during this time in our national history, in which Black individuals continue to experience daily and systemic acts of racism, that we must stand up and act swiftly in order to move forward to a more fair and equitable future.”
Shenandoah University held a virtual forum Wednesday titled, “Past, Present & Future: An Open Forum on the Naming of the Harry F. Byrd Jr. School of Business.”