President Marc Tessier-Lavigne and the Board of Trustees approved a campus committee’s recommendation both to remove Jordan’s name from campus spaces and to take steps to make his multifaceted history better known. Stanford also will relocate a statue of Agassiz.
Stanford will rename campus features named after David Starr Jordan and take actions to provide the public with a more complete view of his complex history, which includes not only his seminal leadership as the university’s founding president but also his parallel leadership in promoting eugenics.
Jordan Hall is home to the Department of Psychology, whose faculty members recently voted unanimously to request the name change and removal of the statue. (Image credit: Kate Chesley)
The university will also relocate from the fašade of Jordan Hall a statue of Jordan’s mentor, Louis Agassiz.
The decision follows a review conducted this summer by a committee of faculty, staff, students and alumni. The university’s Board of Trustees, acting on a recommendation by President Marc Tessier-Lavigne, approved these steps:
- Removing Jordan’s name from Jordan Hall, current home of the Department of Psychology; Jordan Quad and Jordan Modulars, near Panama Street and Campus Drive West; and Jordan Way in the Stanford Medical Center area;
- Relocating a statue of Agassiz from Jordan Hall to a location where it can be given appropriate context; and
- Developing an active effort to better explain the full range of Jordan’s legacy and contributions, beginning with an informational plaque in Jordan Hall and extending to additional efforts such as historical displays and educational programming. These efforts have the goal of ensuring that Jordan’s history is not removed from the Stanford campus but rather more fully articulated in ways that cannot be achieved simply by a building name.
Jordan (1851-1931) had a multifaceted legacy. In addition to being a noted naturalist and ichthyologist, he was an innovative educator and an accomplished institution-builder who played a central role in the founding and early years of Stanford University. He implemented a more modern philosophy of education, encouraged the "absolute democracy of education" and the practical arts and established the major subject system, which was an innovation at that time. He also shepherded Stanford through two major crises, a financial one triggered by the death of Leland Stanford just two years after the university’s founding in 1891, and the great earthquake of 1906.