The UT System Board of Regents voted Thursday to rename Davis Hall after long-term, widespread campus condemnation over the racist behavior of the building’s namesake.
The Board of Regents unanimously approved changing the building’s name to the University Administration Building. The name change is effective immediately, and UTA will begin updating the name on university maps, its website and in the building itself over the coming weeks as conditions permit, university spokesperson Joe Carpenter said in an email.
Davis Hall was named after former university administrator Edward Davis, who served as dean of the then racially segregated North Texas Agricultural College from 1925 to 1946. The on-campus building houses administrative departments such as financial aid, records and registration and the university president's office.
Student groups and alumni have worked to rename Davis Hall for years. In Oct. 2018, UTA alumnus Michael Phillips questioned why the building was named after someone who advocated for eugenics. In November that year, the Student Senate introduced a resolution calling for it to be renamed, according to previous Shorthorn reporting.
The Student Senate passed a resolution to rename the building in April 2020 and found multiple documents written by Davis advocating for eugenics and racist policies.
After the Student Senate presented the resolution, Interim President Teik Lim appointed a task force to research Davis’ past works. The task force found that Davis publicly advocated for eugenics, sterilization of the disabled and segregation based on race and social status, according to an Office of the President email.
In a book titled Care of the Feeble-Minded & Insane in Texas, Davis advocated using eugenics. Davis was instrumental in framing one of the first sterilization bills ever considered by the Texas legislature, which stated the disabled should be isolated and sterilized.
Davis supported segregating ethnic communities to promote white institutions. He claimed the fundamental causes of poverty are “negroes, Mexicans and lowly whites,” according to the Student Senate resolution.
Davis Hall is not the only building name called into question in recent years. Efforts by the Student Senate to rename Davis Hall stemmed from an earlier resolution to rename the E.H. Hereford University Center which never passed.
Blaize LaFleur, former Student Body President who was part of the task force, was nervous about the decision after seeing UT-Austin officials decide to keep “The Eyes of Texas” song, LaFleur said.
The song debuted at a minstrel show where white students likely wore blackface, according to The Texas Tribune.
“[The name change] shows a real dedication to the advancement of our community,” LaFleur said. “We’re acknowledging that something was wrong, and we’re fixing it.”