MTSU building will remain named after Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest

Middle Tennessee State University President Sidney A. McPhee said Wednesday there will be no appeal of a Tennessee Historical Commission decision rejecting MTSU’s request to change the name of a campus building named for Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest, reports the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal.

(After the commission decision in February) McPhee met with members of the President’s Cabinet, which includes the vice presidents and key directors, as well as consulting legal counsel at the university and state government, to determine a course of action, not ruling out an appeal.

Since then, Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery III explained a conflict of interest prohibited his office from representing two state entities on opposing sides of a lawsuit, McPhee said in an email Wednesday.

“If we were to appeal, we would be required to hire outside legal counsel at our expense. After extended deliberation with key stakeholders, I have decided not to appeal that decision,” McPhee wrote.

…The building was built in 1954 and dedicated as “Forrest Hall” four years later. 

…“I continue to believe that renaming Forrest Hall is the right thing to do,” McPhee said. “However, the cost of an appeal would be significant and there is a real possibility that we would not be successful.”

The fight to change the name has been a years-long process that has seen protests on campus, including vandalism to the name marker on the building. The waiver process itself was only recently introduced by the commission and MTSU is the first entity to go through the process.

McPhee said the money that would be used on outside representation  “should instead be used toward our mission of supporting student success resulting in degree completion.”

“Despite the fact that the name Forrest Hall will remain, our efforts to ensure that MTSU remains an inclusive place where all students and staff feel welcome will continue unabated,” he said.

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