UC’s board ultimately didn’t vote to remove the name until Tuesday, years after the original recommendation was made, but the decision to remove McMicken’s name was unanimous.
McMicken, an early 19th century businessman from Pennsylvania, bequeathed the city of Cincinnati money and property “to found an institution where white boys and girls might be taught” when he died in 1858. The cause was personal to him, according to his will’s writer, because he had never obtained much education himself.
Pages later, the will also included provisions to free his slaves and send them to a parcel of land in Liberia -- an idea common across the country in that era, when many believed peaceful coexistence between free white and black people in the United States was impossible. Not mentioned at all were the two black children he is rumored to have fathered by slave mothers.
McMicken’s name did not become formally associated with the university’s arts and sciences college until around 1953, according to the working group. By the ‘70s, Black student movements openly objected to the name, arguing – like the students who voted to remove it in 2018 – that it associated the university with views that didn’t align with its mission.
The university resumed the use of the name in the early 2000s, then began to phase it out in 2017 following more objections from student groups.