Dickinson Begins Diversifying Campus Memory

(Carlisle, PA) Today, May 6, 2020, Dickinson College president Margee M. Ensign announced that the school’s Board of Trustees had unanimously approved a plan to rename a student residence hall after two formerly enslaved men and longtime college employees who had helped to integrate the Dickinson campus in the 19th century.  This decision came in response to a multi-year initiative on “Dickinson & Slavery” by the House Divided Project and represents merely a first step (“just getting started” wrote Ensign) toward a general diversifying of the institution’s public memory and historical commemoration on campus.

At the beginning of May, the Dickinson trustees unanimously approved four resolutions submitted to them in late February from the president’s Ad Hoc Committee on Renaming (chaired by Tonian Ortega, ’18 and Matthew Pinsker, director, House Divided Project):

  • Rename Cooper Hall as Spradley-Young Hall in honor of Henry W. Spradley and Robert C. Young, two formerly enslaved men and longtime college employees who had helped to integrate the Dickinson campus in the 19th century.
  • Rename East College Gate as Pinkney Family Gate in honor of Carrie and Noah Pinkney,  who were popular foodsellers on campus throughout the late 19th and early 20th century.  Noah Pinkney was also a formerly enslaved man and a Union army veteran.
  • Support ongoing efforts by the House Divided Project to raise awareness about the Dickinson & Slavery initiative both online and on campus, including a new series of campus wayside markers to help tell this important story.
  • Set 2022 as a new goal for further reconsideration of the historic namesakes on other residential halls (nine of the former “Quads” which were named in 1991) and Montgomery House (named in the 1950s) with wide-ranging considerations related to recognizing more diverse historic contributions to the school and nation.  
Henry Spradley and Robert Young

Henry Spradley (left) with Robert Young (right), on the steps of Old West, c. 1885 (with son Shirley Spradley center)

Dickinson College plans to invite descendants of the Pinkney, Spradley and Young families to the renaming ceremonies as they are scheduled in the upcoming academic year.   Those who wish to learn more about their stories should consult the online Dickinson & Slavery exhibit and the 2019 report to the community.  Below please also find copies of the statement by the Ad Hoc Committee on Renaming and the letter to the community by President Ensign.

Finally, here is list of ten undergraduate students who made vital contributions to the Dickinson & Slavery effort as House Divided Project interns:

  • Sarah Aillon, ‘19
  • Amanda Donoghue, ‘19
  • Sarah Goldberg, ‘18
  • Frank Kline, ‘18
  • Dana Marecheau, ’20
  • Rachel Morgan, ‘18
  • Rebecca Stout, ‘19
  • Naji Thompson, ‘19
  • Sam Weisman, ‘18
  • Cooper Wingert, ‘20

For more information, contact Matthew Pinsker, director of the House Divided Project, at pinskerm@dickinson.edu or hdivided@dickinson.edu



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