In a Yale University dining hall, the portrait of an avid proponent of slavery has been replaced with a shield depicting a heraldic dolphin.
On Tuesday, beneath the dolphin's fearsome eye, Yale's president and the Navy's chief of naval operations will make speeches, a chaplain will offer a blessing, and a secret ceremonial object will be unveiled.
With that, Yale's Calhoun College, named for John C. Calhoun — a vice president, senator from South Carolina, and founding forefather of the Civil War — will recede further into the university's past. The gothic stone building, one of the 14 residential colleges where undergraduates live and eat, will be dedicated as Hopper College, after Rear Adm. Grace Murray Hopper, a boundary-smashing computer pioneer and naval officer. The dolphin on the Hopper College shield is a nod to her maritime career.
The ceremony caps a bitter, exhausting fight that included years of student protests, a smashed stained-glass window depicting slaves, a decision by Yale to keep Calhoun's name and then, in a reversal, to drop it.
Calhoun, who graduated from Yale in 1804, has not vanished from the campus. His name and likeness remain in the stonework above two archways at Hopper College.
A plaque in the courtyard honors the "Renovations of Calhoun College in 1989," funded in part by "the generosity of S. Roger Horchow, Class of 1950."
"We're never taking this down, because he was a great supporter of the renovation," Prof. Julia Adams, head of Hopper College, said of Horchow, a mail-order catalog mogul and Broadway producer.
There is still an 8-foot statue of Calhoun high up on the university's Harkness Tower, too.
Nor has Yale seen its final battle over an icon that some people find offensive. Last month, the school said it would remove a "problematic" doorway carving that shows a Puritan settler aiming a musket at an American Indian, after drawing criticism for simply covering up the gun.
The dorm was named for Calhoun when it opened in 1933. Since at least the 1970s, students have complained.
New York Times