Princeton University will name a residential college after a Black woman for the first time in the institution’s history, according to a statement from the school.
Hobson College, named for Mellody Hobson, will be built on the site of what was Wilson College. Princeton’s residential colleges provide housing and dining to students.
Hobson, co-CEO of Ariel Investments and one of Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” in 2015, graduated from Princeton in 1991.
The residential college that will now bear Hobson’s name was initially named after former President Woodrow Wilson, a former Princeton president. The name was changed earlier this year to First College after the university’s Board of Trustees decided that Wilson’s “racist thinking and policies” made him an “inappropriate namesake,” the school said.
“When I was approached last year about this opportunity, I was most compelled by the symbolism of a Black woman replacing the name of someone who would not have supported my admission three decades ago and what that would represent for future generations,” Hobson said in a video to Princeton.
“My hope is that my name will remind future generations of students — especially those who are Black and brown and the ‘firsts’ in their families — that they, too, belong. Renaming Wilson College is my very personal way of letting them know that our past does not have to be our future.”
The university said Hobson and the Hobson/Lucas Family Foundation — named for Hobson and her filmmaker husband George Lucas — made the “lead gift” to establish the new building. Construction on the site is scheduled to begin in 2023 and be completed in 2026, the school said.
The name change follows the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement and calls for racial justice in the wake of the continued deaths of Black people at the hands of police. Schools, companies and institutions have been making an effort to not only recognize their sometimes troubled histories, but also to make changes to the names of buildings and logos in an attempt to reconcile with racist behavior.