STANFORD (CBS SF) – Stanford University announced this week that it will remove the name of David Starr Jordan, the school’s first president, from several campus landmarks over his role promoting the eugenics movement.
The university said Jordan’s name would be removed from Jordan Hall, which is home to the school’s psychology department, along with the Jordan Quad and Jordan Modulars, along with Jordan Way near the Stanford Medical Center.
University president Marc Tessier-Levigne and the school’s board of trustees approved the changes following a review of Jordan’s legacy that was summed up in a report completed last month. In his writings, Jordan denigrated numerous races and cultures and believed the efficacy of education was limited by genetic potential. He also advocated for eugenics policies that ultimately led to forced sterilizations and was instrumental in the creation of the American Breeders Association Eugenics Committee, which has been dubbed “the first eugenics body in the United States.”
Jordan was school president from 1891 through 1913, leading the institution through a financial crisis following the death of university founder Leland Stanford and through the Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906.
“David Starr Jordan made monumental contributions to the founding and development of Stanford, which are rightly celebrated,” Tessier-Lavigne said. “But, as the committee reported, Jordan was an equally powerful and vigorous driving force for beliefs and actions that are antithetical to the values of our campus community, and he leveraged his position as president to advance them.”
The school will also remove a statue of Jordan’s mentor, Louis Agassiz from Jordan Hall. University officials said Agassiz had no significant connection to the university and promoted polygenism, which asserted that races have different ancestral origins and are unequal.
Stanford also plans to place an informational plaque in Jordan Hall and create historical displays and educational programming to fully articulate Jordan’s history, which the school described as “complex.” Replacement names for Jordan Hall and the other landmarks have not been determined.
The decision to rename campus spaces honoring Jordan follows a similar review process led in 2018 over the legacy of Fr. Junipero Serra, founder of the California mission system, which led to renaming of several campus features.