University of Pittsburgh
June 29, 2018

Pitt’s Board of Trustees Votes to Remove Parran Name From Graduate School of Public Health Building


PITTSBURGH—The University of Pittsburgh Board of Trustees has voted in favor of a resolution to remove the Parran name from the building housing the Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH), which had been named after founding dean Thomas Parran Jr., in 1969.

In January, GSPH Dean Donald Burke asked the Office of Diversity and Inclusion to form a review committee to consider whether the name was consistent with the University’s mission to create a diverse and inclusive environment.

In March, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion Review Committee, which consisted of faculty, staff and students nominated through Senate Council, began its review. The committee used scholarly and historical documents, debate, analysis, a community forum and online submissions from the public to draft its report and to reach the recommendation to remove the name.

Chancellor Patrick Gallagher, who sent the board a memorandum endorsing the committee’s recommendations prior to the meeting, said the vote was an opportunity to act upon newly discovered research that would have likely impacted the original board’s decision to name the building after Parran.

“Today, equipped with facts that were unknown in 1969, the University’s Board of Trustees voted in favor of removing the name of the facility that houses our Graduate School of Public Health,” Gallagher said. "It was a judicious process. It was a thorough process. And it culminated in a decision that better supports our University’s core values.”

Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion Pam Connelly said the review reflected processes created to ensure claims are investigated in a comprehensive and impartial manner.

“After research and education, through a respectful process, the committee allowed competing views and perspectives to be heard and challenged, which ultimately led to consensus on the recommendations. It was important to the committee not just that the name be removed, but that the legacy surrounding the man and the studies at issue continue to be analyzed, which the University is committed to doing.” 

Dean Burke said GSPH will use the decision as an educational opportunity and will “design and implement new programs to address the complex legacy of Thomas Parran.”

In coming weeks, markers and plaques featuring the Parran name will be removed from the GSPH building. A new permanent name will require approval by the Board of Trustees.