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University at Buffalo removing names of Millard Fillmore, James O. Putnam, Peter B. Porter from campus

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Posted at 1:02 PM, Aug 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-03 13:02:36-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The University at Buffalo announced Monday that they will be removing the names of Millard Fillmore, James O. Putnam and Peter B. Porter from campus signage at the college.

  • Putnam Way, a road on North Campus, will be renamed Mary Talbert Way in honor of the Buffalo civil rights pioneer.
  • Millard Fillmore Academic Center, which houses academic departments, student residences and other services, and is part of the Ellicott Complex, will be known as Academic Center until a new name is determined.
  • The former Putnam’s Marketplace Eatery in the Student Union will be known as Union Marketplace & Eatery.
  • Porter Quadrangle, a residence hall that is part of the Ellicott Complex, will be renamed at a later date.

According to a release from the college, these changes will be made before the start of the fall semester.

“Clearly, historical namings on our campus — whether academic buildings, residential halls, interior spaces or thoroughfares — carry important symbolic value,” President Satish K. Tripathi said during Monday’s UB Council meeting. “We want to ensure that these symbols align with our mission — namely, that we are a diverse, inclusive scholarly community.”

He added: “As we consider some of these symbols, we have no intention of erasing our history. However, we can purposefully determine whom we want to honor in this way.”

The UB Council voted to remove Porter’s name and the other name changes were approved by UB’s Campus Planning Committee. Buffalo State made a similar move last week. Porter was a slave owner.

The 13th president of the United States, Fillmore was a founder and the first chancellor of UB, serving from 1846 until his death in 1874. Fillmore's presidency, from 1850-53, has been widely criticized for his support of The Compromise of 1850, which included the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. According to the a press release issued by UB, the college, "recognizes this remains a deeply hurtful decision, especially for African Americans."

Putnam was a lawyer and New York State senator who served on the UB Council for 32 years, and was the fourth chancellor at UB, from 1895-1902. Putnam was known to openly express racist views.