UNB strips Ludlow's name from law faculty building over links to slavery
Board of governors votes Tuesday to immediately remove George Ludlow's name, install display about his history
The University of New Brunswick has removed George Duncan Ludlow's name from its law faculty building in Fredericton after concerns were raised last year over his involvement in residential schools and his legal endorsement of slavery.
UNB president and vice-chancellor Paul Mazerolle made the announcement Tuesday morning, following a unanimous vote by the board of governors' 46 members.
Within 30 minutes, crews had stripped the lettering from Ludlow Hall and were filling in the holes.
"By acting on the concerns raised by many members of our community, UNB is delivering on its commitment to truth and reconciliation as well as toward building a more equitable, diverse and inclusive institution," Mazerolle said.
Ludlow, who lived from 1734 to 1808, was a Loyalist who became the province's first chief justice. He made court rulings in favour of slavery and was an early proponent of Indian day schools, a precursor to residential schools.
Last October, UNB's Law Students' Society officially asked for Ludlow's name to be removed from Ludlow Hall, which has borne the name since 1968.
In December, Mazerolle set up a working group to review policies and procedures related to the naming or renaming of university places and to investigate named spaces on UNB's two campuses, starting with Ludlow Hall.
In April, the working group delivered its phase one recommendations, which were approved by the board of governors on Tuesday.
Other steps to be taken
In addition to Ludlow's name being removed from the building immediately, a permanent display that explores his history with slavery and Indigenous schooling in early New Brunswick will be installed.
This exhibit will also explain why Ludlow's name was removed from the building.
"What we recognize is … that that is an inglorious part of our history. It's something that needs to be acknowledged," said Mazerolle.
UNB will also hold an educational event to "share what it has learned through the exploration of these historical issues, furthering UNB's path to Truth and Reconciliation by encouraging scholarship on the African-Canadian and Indigenous history of New Brunswick."
The working group's recommendations were based on consultation with academic and community groups, written submissions from members of the UNB community and greater public, and historical research, said Mazerolle.
"It's important to say, this is not a knee jerk reaction," he said, noting there are strong opinions on both sides of the issue.
"Certain members of the community or the alumni community think that we're trying to erase history. Other members of the community are increasingly uncomfortable that a building that stands up for the rule of law is acknowledging somebody who has held controversial decisions and opinions in the past."
Several current law students expressed feelings of shame, embarrassment and re-victimization when entering the Faculty of Law with Ludlow's name prominently displayed.- UNB working group's report
The working group, in its 40-page report, indicates the comments and feedback it received were "mainly in favour" of the removal of Ludlow's name.
"Notably, several current law students expressed feelings of shame, embarrassment and re-victimization when entering the Faculty of Law with Ludlow's name prominently displayed above the main entrance."
"A smaller number" of people were against removing Ludlow's name, the report states.
"Some were against removing or changing names and some feel a sentimental attachment to the name, without connecting it to the man himself."
The working group found no documentation in the archives indicating that former UNB president Colin B. Mackay had been told about Ludlow's association with slavery or the Sussex Vale school when the building was named after him, according to the report.
But Karl Dore, who was an assistant professor at the time and later Dean of Law, told the working group he had raised concerns about Ludlow's connection to slavery with Mackay in 1968 before the building opened.
New name within a year
A new name for the building will be chosen within a year, said Mazerolle.
He plans to form a small committee.
A few names have been suggested in recent months, he said, but he declined to disclose any of them.
"That's all the more reason to do it in a structured way and in a considered way knowing that there's lots of people who are, you know, worthy of us acknowledging their contributions and leadership."
The working group will now focus on ways to improve the university's naming practices, he said. Recommendations are expected in a phase two report in December.
Phase three, which will start next year, will look at whether there are any concerns with the names of any other UNB buildings, rooms or roads.