September 8, 2023

West Chester University’s Council of Trustees Approve Removal of Samuel Christian Schmucker’s Name From Building

sealDuring its first meeting of the 2022-2023 academic year on September 7, West Chester University’s Council of Trustees approved the removal of the Samuel Christian Schmucker Science Center namesake from the University’s 58-year-old science center following the recommendation of President Christopher Fiorentino, the members of the president’s Cabinet, and the Namesake Committee appointed by President Fiorentino to conduct “an in-depth investigation” on the namesake’s legacy. Consistent with the University’s Naming University Facilities and Programs Policy, the Council of Trustees voted to remove the Schmucker namesake, who was confirmed to be an advocate of the refuted science of eugenics.

The statement below was emailed to the West Chester University community by President Fiorentino following the decision of the Council of Trustees on September 7:

West Chester University’s Council of Trustees voted to immediately follow the necessary steps outlined in its Facility Naming Policy to remove the name of Samuel C. Schmucker from the 58-year-old science building. The Council of Trustees believes firmly that the evidence found necessitates this response and sends a message to our students, faculty, and staff that we are an institution that affirms the worth and dignity of everyone.

We are grateful to the scholarship exhibited by one of our remarkable students and their professor who brought history to the forefront of today’s conversations; the committee of faculty, staff, students, and alumni who committed their time and research to examine the nuances of Schmucker’s legacy; the passionate students who rallied behind a mission to right history; and the University’s administration for supporting its community of educators in the search for truth and laying the groundwork for generations of students. It takes the entire community of educators to collectively look at our past to better our future and West Chester University remains resolute.

The legacy of Schmucker, who was a well-liked science teacher in the early years of West Chester State Normal School, was rediscovered most recently through the scholarly research of a student and their professor; the findings were brought to the attention of President Fiorentino. This past spring, President Fiorentino named an inclusive committee to conduct further investigation of the namesake. Upon the Committee’s presentation of their final report this summer, President Fiorentino and the members of the president’s Cabinet concurred with the Committee’s recommendation to remove the name of Samuel Christian Schmucker from the building.

In his August 31 letter to the Council of Trustees, President Fiorentino wrote, “…Our mission here at WCU is to be a community of educators that develops graduates to succeed personally and professionally and make all of us better. Likewise, as an institution of higher education, we should honor only those individuals who have come before us who do the same — make us better. The people we remember must be worthy of that honor.”

President Fiorentino’s recommendation to the Council of Trustees and the Committee’s report can be found here . The Namesake Committee assembled was comprised of West Chester University students, staff, community members, and faculty from three academic colleges, the Division of Student Affairs, and the West Chester University Alumni Association. According to the Committee, the majority of the West Chester University community with whom they spoke “expressed their adamant wishes that SCS’ name be removed.”

The University’s next step will be to consider what the replacement name for the building will be in the future.


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