Messages from the Board

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the Special Committee of the Board

Who are the members of the committee?
The committee consists of 10 current trustees, including co-chairs Craig Owens ’76 and William Toles ’92, ’95L; Wali Bacdayan ’92; Jim Baldwin ’83, P’19; Dana Bolden ’89; Mary Choksi P’11; Laurie Rachford ’84L; Bill Payne ’88; Brodie Gregory Riordan ’03 and Chris Williams ’85, P’19. President Dudley, who is also a trustee, will participate in an ex officio capacity.

How were the members selected?
The members were selected for their varying perspectives and experience. They represent undergraduate and law alumni from the classes of 1976-2003, as well as parents of alumni from the classes of 2011 and 2019. Three are women; three are people of color.

Why is the committee composed only of trustees?
The Board of Trustees has the sole responsibility for decisions on naming and diploma design. Under our charter, a resolution to change the name of the university would require a 2/3 vote of the board.

Were members of the committee asked to share their views on name change in advance?
No. The trustees are approaching this process with open minds. None of the members of the committee were asked to share their views in advance of their selection.

Will the special committee process result in a report or recommendations?
Any decisions regarding the university’s name or diploma design will be made by the full board. The committee’s role is to assist the board in its deliberation on these matters. We do not expect the committee to produce a written report or recommendations.

What is the committee’s charge?
The purpose of the committee is to assist the full board in fulfilling its oversight and strategic decision-making functions by researching, compiling and analyzing information and providing advice and insight to the full board on matters bearing on the interaction between the university’s history and evolving national attitudes about race, diversity and inclusiveness, as well as the implications for the university and its future. The committee will consider questions raised by recent petitions to the board from university students, alumni and faculty, including proposals to change the university’s name and the form of its diplomas. The committee may consider and address other matters that are necessary and directly related to the fulfillment of its purpose.

When will the committee’s work be complete?
Work began in July 2020. The committee is expected to conduct a thoughtful and deliberative process while also working expeditiously. While no deadline has been set for the completion of its work, Rector McAlevey has indicated that it may take six months or more to reach a decision.

What is the best way to communicate with the committee?
The committee will be conducting a comprehensive listening and engagement program that will solicit input from all members of the W&L community and will reach out to other experts as appropriate during this process. If you wish to communicate directly with the Board of Trustees, fill out the feedback form on the board’s website or send an email to