A Name Restored, A Legacy Preserved: the Fate of duPont Hall
By Hayden Daniel '19
In the last issue of the Spectator, which I am happy to report was an extremely successful one, a particular article aroused impressive support from W&L alumni and ruffled more than a few feathers amongst the University Administration, Student Affairs in particular. The article was, “What’s In a Name? The Forgotten Legacy of DuPont Hall.” The article detailed some of the history behind the longstanding hall and the impressive achievements of its namesake, Jesse Ball duPont, who was the first woman to ever receive a degree of any kind from Washington and Lee as well as the first woman to sit on W&L’s Board of Trustees, and it questioned the wisdom of renaming the hall and its expansive addition the Kenneth P. Ruscio Center For Global Learning given duPont’s numerous contributions, some of which continue to this day through her charitable foundation.
Honestly, that article was intended to be an innocuous history lesson coupled with a smidge of gentle criticism toward the University’s decision to remove the name. However, the considerable support shown by alumni alerted the Administration to the relevance of the issue. About a week after the issue’s publication and after it had received a considerable amount of feedback of support from readers, Editor-in-Chief Ben Gee, Executive Editor Ben Whedon, and myself were contacted via email by the Administration, who assured us that the name duPont would once again occupy its traditional place above the entrance of the old duPont Hall and that the hall itself would retain the name of its original benefactor. Though I am still concerned over the University Registrar’s failure to differentiate the halls within the Center For Global Learning as it does in the Science Center and Lenfest Center, the campus activist movement’s lack of concern over the replacement of the name of one of the most important women in the university’s history, and that the Center For Global Learning has gone without the name duPont Hall for over a year since its opening, the Administration’s notification that the name will be put back up is encouraging.
As always, the Spectator will continue to hold the Administration’s feet to the fire on this and other important issues on campus. Finally, I and the rest of the Spectator staff would like to thank all of those who showed support in preserving the legacy of a remarkable woman whose life and achievements have become and will continue to be integrally linked with the history of Washington and Lee through the inscription above the entrance to a namesake hall: duPont.