Portrait of former Indiana University president David Starr Jordan
(Photo by The Abbott Sengstacke Family Papers/Robert Abbott Sengstacke/Getty Images)

IU Removes Name of Eugenics Advocate From Campus Buildings

(BLOOMINGTON, Ind.) — Indiana University’s Jordan River and two campus buildings have been
renamed to strip the name of former university president David Starr Jordan.

A university committee called for removing Jordan’s name last week because of his fervent advocacy for selective breeding, forced sterilization, and immigration restrictions under the umbrella of the eugenics movement. IU Maurer School of Law Dean Austen Parrish says Jordan’s writings about racial hierarchies directly influenced the Nazis.

Jordan Hall and the Jordan River are now the Biology Building and Campus River, while the Jordan
Avenue Parking Garage is now the East Parking Garage. The vote calls for no new renaming for at least a year.

President Michael McRobbie calls Jordan’s writings and views “abhorrent,” and says honoring him is
inconsistent with IU’s core values.

Trustee Patrick Shoulders cast the only no vote. He notes Jordan’s history was already known when Jordan Hall was dedicated in 1956, even if it had been largely forgotten. And he argues applying today’s standards retroactively would mean renaming every building on campus, since discrimination against women and gays was once commonplace. But Parrish says Jordan was doing more than just mirroring a viewpoint of his times — he was one of the leading American advocates of eugenics, heading several organizations which backed the passage of forced sterilization laws, including in Indiana.

Jordan led IU from 1885 to 1891 before becoming the first president of Stanford. Stanford is considering whether to remove his name from its psychology building.

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