News & Politics

George Washington University Will Consider Renaming Marvin Center and Retiring “Colonials” Nickname

The university has quietly distanced itself from the "Colonials" name for a few years.

Photograph by Andrew Beaujon.

George Washington University announced Monday it will form special committees to consider renaming the Cloyd Heck Marvin Center and the “Colonials” moniker used by its sports teams.

DC Councilmember Mary Cheh will head the committee that will examine the nickname, an homage to American revolutionaries that some believe is nonetheless freighted with the full weight of colonialism. Whether intentionally or not, the university has distanced itself from the name in recent years, including renaming an annual pep rally once known as the “Colonial Invasion.”

The Marvin Center is named for a president of the school who many credit for transforming GW from a sleepy commuter school into a major university. Marvin was also an segregationist who resisted admitting Black students until long after the rest of DC’s universities had integrated. Law professor Roger Fairfax will lead the committee that will evaluate the Marvin Center.

“I want to emphasize that while establishing these committees is an important part of the process to consider renaming requests, it does not indicate that we are presupposing a specific outcome,” GW President Thomas J. LeBlanc says in an update to the school’s community.

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Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute,, and Washington City Paper. He lives in Del Ray.