At its Saturday meeting, the University of Vermont Board of Trustees voted to remove the name of Guy W. Bailey, UVM’s 13th president, from the main university library.The official name for the building, previously Guy W. Bailey/David W. Howe Memorial Library, will now be David W. Howe Memorial Library.
This decision was reached following a recommendation by the university’s Renaming Advisory Committee, established in March of this year. Composed of current, emeriti and student trustees (some UVM alumni), and faculty members, the committee followed a process and set of principles developed at Yale University, which includes the opportunity for members of the community to comment.
The proposal to remove Bailey’s name, submitted by associate professor Jackie Weinstock and signed by more than 100 members of the UVM faculty, cites Bailey’s involvement with the Vermont eugenics movement of the 1920s and 30s as grounds for revoking the naming honor.
After review of the proposal and subsequent research, the board concluded that Bailey was significantly involved as president of the University in promoting eugenics, which ultimately led in Vermont to involuntary sterilizations of poor women, darker-skinned French Canadians and Native Americans. The Renaming Advisory Committee also learned, through its research, of fiscal mismanagement during the Bailey presidency. Because this legacy is at odds with the mission of the university and because the building in question plays a substantial role in forming community on campus – two of the principles that guide the renaming committee – a recommendation was made to the board to remove Bailey’s name.
“We reached our recommendation based primarily on the fact that Bailey’s active involvement as president of the University in supporting and promoting the Eugenics Survey of Vermont is fundamentally at odds with the University’s mission. We also considered Bailey’s mismanagement of University financial resources,” said trustee and committee chair Ron Lumbra.
UVM President Tom Sullivan offered praise for the process and committee’s work.
“I applaud and appreciate the careful, thoughtful, serious work of the Trustee Renaming Advisory Committee, under the able leadership of Trustee Ron Lumbra. The Committee’s report is clear and well-reasoned. It is a testament to the fair and deliberative process we have implemented to consider proposals to remove names from UVM facilities. I fully support the Committee's recommendation to remove the Bailey name from the Library.”
While no other proposal has been submitted for the committee’s consideration, Lumbra said the same process will be used in the future.
“I think the process we have set in place to consider de-naming proposals worked very well, and it is one that will serve the University well should other proposals be submitted in the future,” said Lumbra. “This is a task that the committee took very seriously. Our committee members dove deeply into the research, thoughtfully considered all the information available, deliberated and debated all the key aspects carefully, and with open minds arrived at what we think is the right recommendation. I want to give a big thanks to everybody in the committee and supporting staff. This process was conducted thoughtfully, deliberately, and efficiently.”