MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Middle Tennessee State University President Sidney McPhee has decided that the university will re-open discussions about changing the name of Forrest Hall.
The building, which houses the Military Science Department on campus, was named after Nathan Bedford Forrest back in 1958. The name was chosen, according to the university, because of Forrest's notoriety as a military tactical genius and his ties to Middle Tennessee. He was born in the state.
The building's name did not go without controversy because of Forrest's ties to the Ku Klux Klan. The debate led to the removal of a 600-pound bronze medallion of Forrest from the Keathley University Center in 1989.
Then in 2006, students petitioned to have the name removed from the building. This led to a series of public forums with the university, ultimately deciding to keep Forrest's name on the building.
But now President McPhee has decided to revisit the issue in light of the recent mass shooting at the African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina.
In a statement released Wednesday, President McPhee said:
“Debate about the name of Forrest Hall has surfaced periodically through the years. In light of the horrific killings in Charleston, and the national discussion that has ensued in the aftermath, it is right and appropriate to revisit this matter with the university community, our alumni and supporters, and state officials, who by law must approve any change.”
Others are already calling for the removal of Forrest's bust from the Tennessee State Capitol Building.
President McPhee will re-open debate on whether to petition the state for permission to change the name of Forrest Hall on campus.
The university is expected to send on a formal announcement on this issue later this week.