News & Politics

George Washington University Will Change the Marvin Center’s Name

The building, named for a segregationist, will now be known as the University Student Center.

Photograph by Andrew Beaujon.

George Washington University’s board of trustees has voted to change the name of the Cloyd Heck Marvin Center, the university announced Tuesday. The building will henceforth be known as the University Student Center.

As its president from 1927 to 1959, Marvin was key to transforming GW from a commuter school to a big-time university. He was also a fervent segregationist who believed that, as he wrote in 1938, “Students of any race or color perform their best educational disciplines when they are happily situated in a congenial and homogenous group.”

GW’s board of trustees established a set of criteria last June to help it consider whether to rename buildings and memorials on campus. That led to a committee that recommended changing the name after studying Marvin and soliciting feedback from students, faculty, staff, and alumni, the school says in a press release. Last fall the university released a trove of historical documentation about Marvin, including a letter from an Arlington chapter of the KKK that praised Marvin for blocking the admission of a student with left-wing views.

The school says it will begin changing signage around the Marvin Center.

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Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute, TBD.com, and Washington City Paper. His book A Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Soccer Team That Fought the Great War was published in 2018. He lives in Del Ray.