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University names West College for Toni Morrison; Wilson School auditorium for Arthur Lewis, April 18, 2017: Princeton University’s trustees have approved recommendations to name West College, a prominent and central campus building, for the Nobel laureate Toni Morrison, an emeritus faculty member at Princeton, and to name the major auditorium in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs for Sir Arthur Lewis, a Nobel laureate in Economics, who served on the school’s faculty from 1963 to 1983. The name of former University President Harold Dodds will be transferred from the auditorium to the adjacent atrium that serves as the entryway into Robertson Hall. The new names will take effect on July 1, 2017. The recommendations were made by the Council of the Princeton University Community (CPUC) Committee on Naming, a committee composed of faculty, students, staff and alumni that was established in the fall of 2016 to advise the trustees on the naming of “buildings or other spaces not already named for historical figures or donors to recognize individuals who would bring a more diverse presence to the campus.” The committee made its recommendations after seeking suggestions from throughout the University community, including through a website that provided background information about the two spaces that the trustees asked it to consider.
Morrison Hall: Toni Morrison is the Robert F. Goheen Professor in the Humanities, Emerita, at Princeton and a recipient of the 1993 Nobel Prize in literature. She was the first African American to be awarded the Nobel Prize in literature. Morrison taught courses at Princeton in the humanities and African American studies. One of her courses led to a book entitled “Playing in the Dark.” After several years she joined the creative writing program where she advised such students as the now-published writers David Treuer, Ladee Hubbard, Kate Morgenroth, MacKenzie Tuttle and Rachel Kadish. Her arrival helped to attract other faculty and students of color to Princeton, and she played a catalytic role in expanding Princeton’s commitments both to the creative and performing arts and to African American studies. In 1994 she founded the Princeton Atelier, bringing together undergraduate students in interdisciplinary collaborations with acclaimed artists and performers such as Jacques d’Amboise, A.S. Byatt, Peter Sellars, Yo-Yo Ma, Richard Danielpour, Bernice Johnson Reagon, Gabriel Garcia Márquez, Anonymous 4, Richard Price, Pig Iron Theatre Company, Maria Tucci and Allegro Kent among others. In 1996 she gave the keynote address — “The Place of the Idea, The Idea of the Place” — as Princeton celebrated its 250th anniversary, and in 2013 the University awarded her an honorary doctorate. In addition to the Nobel Prize, Morrison won a National Book Critics Circle Award for “Song of Solomon” in 1977; a Pulitzer Prize for “Beloved” in 1988; the Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 1993; the National Humanities Medal in 2000; the Ordre National de la Légion d’honneur in 2010; the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012; and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences Emerson-Thoreau Medal in 2017.