Emory University to Rename a Campus Center and Professorships

Emory University in Atlanta has decided to rename campus spaces and professorships honoring Robert Yerkes, a psychologist who vigorously supported eugenics, and L.Q.C. Lamar, who was a staunch defender of slavery.

The Yerkes National Primate Research Center will be known as the Emory National Primate Research Center, effective June 1. Professorships in the Emory School of Law named after Lamar will become the Emory School of Law Distinguished Professors.

Established in 1930, the Yerkes National Primate Research Center is the oldest scientific institute dedicated to nonhuman primate research. Yerkes, who was an influential psychologist and early primatologist at Yale University, served as its first director. The University Committee on Naming Honors recommended that the center be renamed based on Yerkes’ vigorous support for eugenics through his writings and speeches.

Lamar, an Emory graduate who served as an officer for the Confederacy and was a congressional representative, senator and Supreme Court justice. Lamar was a staunch defender of slavery and wrote Mississippi’s Articles of Secession from the Union.

Emory University President Gregory L. Fenves said that “we will continue to explore our past with fresh perspective — strengthening understanding and shedding light on untold stories.”

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