Washington and Lee University will keep their names, Lee Chapel will not

LEXINGTON, Virginia. – Washington and Lee University will indeed remain Washington and Lee University.

The university’s board of trustees on Friday voted 22-6 in favor of retaining the name. The vote comes after an 11-month review of the university’s name, symbols and other issues related to its history and the campus environment.

The board cited two clear findings from its review:

  1. There is broad support for advancing the university’s commitments to diversity, equity and inclusion.

  2. At the same time, there is no consensus regarding a name change.

While retaining the name, “the board has also decided to expand diversity and inclusion initiatives and make changes to campus buildings, practices and governance,” according to the board of directors.

By making such a change, the Lee Chapel, named after Robert E. Lee, will now be known as the University Chapel, taking the building to its original 19th century name of “College Chapel”.

Along with this change, the board will oversee and approve interior changes to restore the unadorned design of the chapel and physically separate the auditorium from the Lee Family Crypt and the Lee Memorial Sculpture.

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The university is named after our country’s first president, George Washington, whose donation of the James River Canal stock to Liberty Hall Academy in 1796 ensured the school’s survival, and Robert E. Lee, whose leadership as president of Washington College from 1865 until his death in 1870 restored the institution after the Civil War.

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