NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — After years of pleas and protests, Yale University changed campus history by dedicating the new Grace Hopper College. That’s the new name of the residential college that used to be named after John C. Calhoun.
Many students wanted the name changed because even though Calhoun was the 7th Vice President of the United States, Secretary of State, Secretary of War, and a U.S. senator, he was also a big supporter of slavery and slave owners’ rights. Many considered him to be a white supremacist.
Today, Yale held a chic ceremony, complete with a Navy band, Navy members in uniform, hors d’oeuvres and big-named speakers, which included Admiral John Richardson, Chief of Naval Operations. It was all to honor the life and legacy of the residential college’s new namesake — Grace Hopper.
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“What do names matter people often ask,” said Julia Adams, head of Grace Hopper College. “They matter a great deal.”
Adams told the crowd how great it is how all of the dialogue, debate, discourse and discussion have lead to this moment.
It was a moment that packed a dining hall that looked more like the inside of a castle. Speaker after speaker praised Grace Hopper for being an excellent mathematician — a pioneer in mathematics — and a member of the United States Navy who opened doors and opportunities for women. She used her mathematical expertise to fight fascism in World War II. She received a master’s degree in mathematics and PhD in mathematics and mathematical physics from Yale in the 1930’s.
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“At a time when opportunities for women were scarce, she charted a new course,” said Yale President Peter Salovey. He made no mention of the controversy surrounding the push for the name change from Calhoun to Hooper.
Admiral Richardson called it a great day for Yale University by selecting such a distinguished person to name a residential college after.
Grace Murray Hopper is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Her legacy and name will live on at Yale.
Adams considers this name change a “great new beginning” for the residential college community.