On June 3, 2020, Black student leaders at LSU met with President Galligan and other university leaders and asked for the removal of the name Troy H. Middleton from LSU’s main library building. Middleton served as president of LSU from 1951 to 1962 and opposed integration throughout his tenure. On Friday, June 19, 2020, the LSU Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to remove his name. Interim President Galligan, Provost Haynie, and Governor Edwards all strongly supported the board’s vote.
Exquisite Williams, a junior from Douglasville, Georgia, is one of the students who launched the effort by creating an online petition. Williams says she has always been fond of books and words, and that as home to those creations, libraries deserve reverence and respect. “A library is a shelter that provides and nourishes education in everyone, despite race, gender, and nationality. As a sanctuary of words, then the words on the building must be equally as sacred,” stated Williams, “Once I found out about Middleton, I stopped using the library. It became a terrible, alienating place and I avoided entering it. But now there is hope for a change!”
Williams says that she hopes the name change will be a first step in the University’s reckoning with other issues of inequality. Black student leaders have met with President Galligan to lay out a platform for addressing those issues, including:
- Increasing the ratio of minority professionals in every academic area;
- Increasing the funding for minority programs and departments to positively affect the Black student experience; and
- Organizing LSU resources specifically targeted towards minority students and workers dealing with mental health and trauma.
On Friday, June 19, 2020, the bust of Troy H. Middleton was removed from the library’s lobby along with his name on the building. Although the public has suggested many new names for the library via the LSU Libraries’ social media pages, campus administration has decided that the library formerly named after Middleton will be called “LSU Library” for the interim. A committee is being formed to select a permanent name that will go before the LSU Board of Supervisors for approval once selected.