City University is ditching the name Cass from its business school amid concerns about the fortune Sir John Cass, the 18th-century merchant it is named after, made from the slave trade.
The university announced on Monday that its oversight body, the City council, had unanimously decided to remove the Cass name.
City University renamed its business school in honour of Cass in 2002 following a £5m donation from the John Cass Foundation. The foundation was established in 1748 and is named after the trader, whose vast wealth was used posthumously to create the educational charity.
Julia Palca, chair of the City council, said: “We acknowledge the great pain and hurt caused to members of our City and Business School community and to many black people by the association of the school’s name with the slave trade. Any continued use of Sir John Cass’ name would be seen as condoning someone whose wealth in part derived from the exploitation of slavery. This is incompatible with our values of diversity and inclusivity. We have therefore taken the decision to remove the name.”
The school will be referred to as City’s Business School while consultations about a new name take place.
It is the latest in a line of institutions, including the Bank of England, the University of Liverpool and the insurance broker Lloyd’s of London, to acknowledge their roles in the slave trade and attempt to make amends, after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in late May gave renewed impetus and urgency to the Black Lives Matter movement.
Prof Sir Paul Curran, president of City, University of London, added: “The announcement of our decision to change the name of City’s Business School by no means marks the end of the issue. The work we are doing to address racial inequality and to ensure City is an inclusive place to work and study will continue. We have listened to the concerns of the City community about the naming of the Business School and we have also heard about their individual experiences of racism and inequality in today’s world.”
City University last month began a review of all historic sources of funding to determine if there are any other links with slavery. The review is expected to report in August.