MTSU president approves recommendation for Forrest Hall name change

Sidney McPhee (Photo: WKRN)

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) – The president of Middle Tennessee State University has accepted the recommendation to change the name of Forrest Hall.

A task force was enlisted to look into the matter as the on-campus building is named after one-time KKK leader Nathan Bedford Forrest. It currently houses MTSU’s ROTC program.

On April 19, that 17-member task force concluded the name should be changed after weeks of meetings and discussions.

On Thursday, MTSU President Sidney McPhee accepted that recommendation, so it now goes on to the Tennessee Board of Regents, the university’s governing body, for consideration.

Regents could decide as soon as their June meeting whether to forward it to the Tennessee Historical Commission for action.

(Courtesy: MTSU)
(Courtesy: MTSU)

In a letter to Derek Frisby, chair of the task force and a global studies instructor, President McPhee says, “The values and goals we share in 2016 as a comprehensive university with international reach are not best reflected by retaining a name affixed in 1958 when we were a small local college that rarely extended beyond our region.”

“It is clear that there are many wide-ranging and contradicting views about the life and legacy of Confederate Lt. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest,” McPhee said. “I do not feel it is my role to discern the appropriateness or relevance of his actions prior, during or after the Civil War.

“It is appropriate, however, for me to assess whether the decision made in the middle of the 20th Century to name the building for General Forrest remains in our best interest in the second decade of the 21st Century.”

McPhee also asked Professor Carroll Van West, who serves as Tennessee’s state historian, to develop a historical timeline that “encapsulates the life, legacy and impact that General Forrest had upon our state, region and nation.” It would be housed in the Albert Gore Research Center.

Forrest Hall was built in 1954 to house the ROTC program but was not dedicated until 1958 when the name became official.

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