MTSU trustees votes to seek name change for Forrest Hall

MURFREESBORO, TN (WSMV) – The Middle Tennessee State University Board of Trustees voted unanimously Tuesday to support efforts to gain permission from the state to remove the name of Confederate Lt. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest’s name from its Army ROTC building.

The board’s action endorsed President Sidney A. McPhee’s desire to remove the Forrest name from the structure, which he has said “distracts from the values, goals and priorities we share as a modern, inclusive and comprehensive university.”

“Seeing Forrest’s name on the building is painful and infuriating to many, including me,” McPhee said in an op-ed column he wrote last month.

The board said the vote underscores McPhee’s desire to the Tennessee Historical Commission for a second time to ask for the name change. The commission rejected McPhee’s first attempt in 2018.

Built in 1954, the building was named after Forrest, the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, in 1958 reportedly to honor his notoriety as a military tactician in the Civil War. Under state law, two-thirds of the historical commission must approve such changes on state building.

In recent months, the body approved the removal of a bust of Forrest from the Tennessee State Capitol, which encouraged the university to make another attempt at renaming the Army ROTC building.

“It is the intent of the university, at my recommendation, to remove the name,” McPhee told trustees during Tuesday’s meeting.