Duke is proceeding as a community of scholars to consider Carr Building renaming

I suspect that Rob Christensen’s piece in today’s Raleigh, N.C. New and Observer Opinion section was finished by him before the full text of the Duke History Department’s proposal to rename the Carr Building on Duke’s campus was made public on Friday afternoon, August 31.

You can read the History Department’s piece for yourself, but I would like to respectfully submit that the proposal developed by my historian colleagues is not characterized by what Mr. Christensen assumed must be true of it:

“…full of anger and fury, what is often missing is any context or nuance, or a sense that things are more complex than today’s sloganeering.”

The historical aspects of Mr. Carr’s legacy that Mr. Christensen noted in his column are included in the History Department’s proposal, and more. They have been working on the proposal for over 6 months, and they wrestle with the multifaceted legacy of Mr. Carr. The proposal was approved by the full History faculty in May, 2018, and further honed over the summer keeping in mind the process and principles laid out by the University for such renaming considerations.

Duke is proceeding as a community of scholars to consider the renaming of the Carr Building. And the goal is certainly not to wash away Duke’s history, but to fully tell it, using the best scholarship available as our guidance, and a commitment to reckon with what our history means for us all today.


About Don Taylor
Professor of Public Policy (with appointments in Business, Nursing, Community and Family Medicine, and the Duke Clinical Research Institute), and Chair of the Academic Council at Duke University https://academiccouncil.duke.edu/ . I am one of the founding faculty of the Margolis Center for Health Policy. My research focuses on improving care for persons who are dying, and I am co-PI of a CMMI award in Community Based Palliative Care. I teach both undergrads and grad students at Duke. On twitter @donaldhtaylorjr

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