BOONE — Appalachian State could soon rename multiple residence halls, including two that students have called on the university to rename because of their namesakes’ ties to the Confederacy and segregationist policies.
Both dorms, Lovill and Hoey, are located on the east side of campus in a cluster of dorms near Locust Street and Hardin Street.
Recent protests against racial injustice that followed the deaths of George Floyd and other black men and women across the country have led to the destruction and removal of Confederate monuments and proposals to rename schools, military bases and other facilities named for Confederate or segregationist leaders. But the study of the Hoey and Lovill dorm names by Appalachian student and administrative groups began in earnest a couple of years ago.
In 2017, in the wake of the “Unite the Right” white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., and amid growing calls for the removal of the “Silent Sam” Confederate solider statue at UNC-Chapel Hill, Appalachian Chancellor Sheri Everts formed the Inclusive Campus Stories Work Group, led by then-Provost Darrell Kruger. The group was charged with reviewing the campus’s history, including the names of buildings, streets, markers and monuments, and “making recommendations about how we protect, promote and rethink the messages our surroundings convey and what they do not,” Everts told the university board of trustees in September 2018.
In March 2018, the Appalachian State Student Government Association passed a resolution introduced by four freshmen senators that called for a review of the dorm names in conjunction with the provost’s office, focused on renaming the residence halls “to reflect the university’s mission and strategic plan.”
The Inclusive Campus Stories Work Group included associate history professor Andrea Burns, who was tasked with researching and writing reports on Hoey and Lovill. Burns noted that she was asked not to make explicit recommendations for or against removal of the building names in the reports, which were submitted in summer 2019.
According to Burns’ report, Edward Francis Lovill was born in Surry County in 1842 and died in Boone in 1925. He enlisted as a private in the Confederate Army at the age of 19 and quickly rose through the ranks. He was recommended for a promotion to colonel at the time the Civil War ended, and records indicate Lovill was present at Appomattox Court House when Robert E. Lee surrendered.
Lovill went on to serve in the N.C. Senate as a Democrat during a time when, according to Burns, “it would have been clear to the average voter that in the Reconstruction and post-Reconstruction eras, the Democratic Party stood for a return to white supremacy and its associated policies.” However, Burns’ report noted that Lovill’s specific voting record would be difficult to determine without more extensive research, though multiple sources state he was a supporter of women’s suffrage.
In 1885, Lovill secured a bill that would ultimately lead to the creation of the Appalachian Training School, the forerunner of Appalachian State. He served as the chair of the school’s first board of trustees and remained in the position for over 20 years, according to the report.
Clyde Roark Hoey was born in 1877 in Shelby, the son of a Confederate captain, and he died in 1954. He worked in the newspaper business prior to being elected to the state House and later Senate, according to Burns’ report. He played a significant role in helping the “Newland Bill,” which authorized the creation of a state-supported training school for teachers in Boone.
He later served as assistant U.S. attorney, a U.S. congressman, North Carolina governor and a U.S. senator.
“During these crucial years of the late 19th and early 20th century, when Reconstruction-era reforms were almost entirely dismantled, lynching was on the rise and white supremacist organizations like the Klan were highly active in North Carolina and throughout the United States, Hoey vocally and intentionally advocated for the disenfranchisement, suppression and segregation of African Americans,” Burns wrote.
As governor, Hoey was known for support of education, including higher teacher pay, free textbooks for elementary school children and increased appropriations for schools, the report stated, with some support for African American schools and colleges, as well. A building on the campus of N.C. Central University in Durham, a historically black university, was named for Hoey after he secured state funding for the institution. N.C. Central trustees voted to rename that building in February 2019.
As a U.S. senator in the 1940s and ‘50s, Hoey consistently opposed civil rights legislation, the report stated, and he was tapped to lead an investigation of suspected homosexuals working within the federal government. Known as the “Lavender Scare,” it resulted in the forced resignation and firing of thousands of suspected gay federal employees and led to an order by President Dwight D. Eisenhower banning gays and lesbians from working in federal government.
Associate history professor Karl Campbell also served on the Inclusive Campus Stories Work Group, as well as the ASU History Committee.
“We were really exploring and pushing the concepts of how Appalachian could become a more inclusive and welcoming environment for all students and visitors,” Campbell said. He added that the process of gathering information was just as important as the outcome: “More than just making a decision, we wanted to make this an educational opportunity. We wanted to educate the students and the faculty in a discussion of this.”
Campbell noted there are a couple of options when reviewing monuments and names, including removal or, alternatively, an “additive” approach, such as more context and background about a person being added, or a new monument being added to the public space.
Students “were absolutely right to raise these questions,” he said. “The thing we have to be careful about as a historian is that we don’t oversimplify a complicated past. We also have to remember that people that have done things that we condemn may have also done things that we praise.”
In addition to the reports prepared by Burns, lecturer Trent Margrif and his students compiled an inventory of building names, street names and monuments/memorials on the App State campus, and that report was submitted to Kruger in December 2019, according to a timeline provided by Appalachian State spokesperson Megan Hayes. The work group also recommended the addition of monuments and symbols to the campus representing the contributions of historically marginalized populations.
Winn Williams, a senior history education major at App State who is from Morganton, last fall started a petition on the website change.org “to change the racist names of Lovill and Hoey hall on Appalachian State’s campus.” As of June 26, the petition had 2,239 signatures. Williams said he discovered the history of the buildings’ names while conducting research for a class.
“These men did contribute to App State, but their values surrounding race does not fit with the community’s ideals or the university’s,” Williams said. “I stayed in Hoey last summer and it made me uncomfortable that I was living in a building named for someone who wanted universities to be segregated. It also made me question what the university stood for.”
Williams said that adding plaques with more information about Lovill and Hoey would not be enough.
“There are plenty of other ways to remember history through education and museums that do not hold those men in places of honor,” he said. “When we learn of slavery and segregation, we should honor those who persevered against those institutions, not those who fought to preserve them.”
Last year, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs J.J. Brown established a Building Naming Committee, which has recommended changing the names of all residence halls named after individuals, and that residence halls should be named after trees, flora and/or natural elements from the local area — a plan approved by the Chancellor’s Council, according to the timeline provided by Hayes.
Campbell said he feels the plan to name buildings after natural elements is “avoiding the issue” and presents a dilemma — “does this mean we’re never going to honor a person or family again?” he asked.
This spring, the university announced names for the four new dorms being constructed on the west side of campus: Thunder Hill, Raven Rocks, Laurel Creek and New River halls.
Other residence halls slated for renaming include Belk, Cannon, Cone, Doughton, Frank, Newland and White halls, according to the timeline. The chancellor can approve the renamings of any buildings not named after donors, and trustee approval is not required, it said. The timeline indicates that the Building Naming Committee was scheduled to finalize recommendations for new residence hall names this summer.
Williams said he spoke with Brown about the renaming process last week.
“I am optimistic about the future renaming of the buildings, but I want to keep the discussion and petition alive until the change is fully enacted,” Williams said.
Hayes said on June 25 that university leaders expect to make announcements about Hoey and Lovill halls “in the coming days.”
The university board of trustees met for its quarterly meeting on June 26 and voted to approve a motion for support for Chancellor Sheri Everts' plan to remove the names of Hoey and Lovill from their respective residence halls.