University releases renaming process details

Wake Forest hopes to announce new names in the coming months


Courtesy of Wake Forest

There are currently two stretches of road named after former university President Washington Wingate.

Aine Pierre, Online Managing Editor

The university will release its next steps in renaming two stretches of a road on campus that is named after former University President Washington Manly Wingate on Thursday. 

Since Spring 2021, Wake Forest has been working to rename buildings that memorialize former members of the university community who aided and abetted in the practice of slavery. On May 7, 2021, Wake Forest announced the renaming of Wingate Hall to May 7, 1860 Hall to acknowledge the university’s selling of 16 human beings at an auction on that date. 

Backlash to that renaming was quick; 1,864 people signed a petition advocating for a different name in January 2021. As a result, the building ultimately ended up with the placeholder name of the Divinity and Religious Studies Building (DRSB). 

The renaming of Wingate Road has taken longer because unlike the previous case of the DRSB, a placeholder name is not a viable solution. This is because the city of Winston-Salem needs to approve the names of all roads — even those on Wake Forest’s campus — which is a process that can take multiple weeks. 

“In order for us to have gotten a temporary name for those two stretches of road, we would have had to get that name approved and then go back and get the other name approved, which is why it’s still Wingate Road,” Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion Dr. José Villalba said.

According to Villalba, the process that was outlined on Thursday will help adjudicate between the names and themes that the Office of Diversity and Inclusion has gathered from various sources, such as the student survey collected in November 2021. 

“When we tell the community what names we chose, we need to explain how we arrived at this process,” Villalba said. 

The process, as released on Thursday morning in InsideWFU places the responsibility of adjudicating between names in the hands of an ad-hoc committee that will be chaired by Villalba and Provost Rogan Kersh. The university is currently planning to announce the names they will submit to the city in the coming months.

“I anticipate the Committee’s work will yield a recommendation to me for these roads within the next few months,” President Susan Wente said in the Inside WFU release. “I will then review the recommendation with the Board of Trustees through its established processes for deliberation and, ultimately, their endorsement.”

This is a breaking story and will be updated as information comes in. 

Update 11:07 a.m.: This story has been updated to reflect the recently-released process on Inside WFU.