University of Hawai'i
(808) 956-8856 Telephone
For Immediate Release:
January 6, 1998
Contact: Interim Senior Vice President Dean O. Smith, 956-7486
Sylvia Yuen, chair, ad hoc committee, 956-4132
UH committee to review student request to rename Porteus Hall
An ad hoc committee has been appointed to consider the issue of renaming Porteus Hall on the UH Manoa campus. The Associated Students of the University of Hawai'i (ASUH) unanimously passed a resolution in late October calling for the renaming because of allegedly racist beliefs attributed to the building's namesake. A committee recommendation is expected this spring.
Chairing the committee is Sylvia Yuen, a professor in the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources and director of the University's Center on the Family. UHM community members who have agreed to serve on the committee are Robin Companiano, former UH regent and an officer in the UH Alumni Association; and Lawrence Foster, dean of the UHM School of Law; Sumner LaCroix, professor of economics; John Pincince, a student active in the Graduate Student Organization; Charlotte Trotter, an associate professor of nursing; and Alan Yang, dean of students.
The committee has been charged with studying the issue thoroughly, considering historical, social, legal, financial and other relevant matters, and providing a sound, well-reasoned recommendation to Dean O. Smith, interim UH senior vice president and UHM interim executive vice chancellor. Smith will forward his recommendation to UH President Kenneth P. Mortimer. Final authority on University building names rests with the Board of Regents.
Among the materials the committee is reviewing-which include original writings by Porteus and any other relevant documents-are written comments from students, faculty and community members solicited by President Mortimer in November and December. The president's office received a tremendous amount of mail and e-mail on the subject, reflecting a wide range of comments both favoring and opposing a change in the name of the building that houses several departments in the social sciences. Among the comments are suggestions for alternate names, questions about legal and financial consequences and concerns about impact of the controversy on descendants of the late Stanley D. Porteus, for whom the building was named in 1974. Porteus was an internationally recognized psychologist who served on the faculty in the UHM Department of Psychology from 1922 to 1948. He died in 1972.