Image: Wikimedia Commons/ Alan Ford

City business school name to change over slavery connection

City, University of London’s Business School is to remove the name of Sir John Cass, due to his links to the slave trade.

After a student-led campaign, the building will no longer be known as the Cass Business School.

The school’s ruling body came to the unanimous decision after taking into account views expressed by a “wide range of stakeholders” in its consultation.

Julia Palca, chairwoman of City’s 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.”

It will not be referred to as City’s Business School while consultations about a new name take place.

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.

– Sir Paul Curran

Sir John Cass (1661-1718) has been described as a major figure in the early development of the Atlantic slave economy, and he dealt with slave agents in Africa and the Caribbean.

The Sir John Cass Foundation charitable fund has contributed to several schools in London, and City’s business school adopted Cass’ name after a £5 million donation was made in 2002.

After the toppling on the Edward Colston statue in Bristol during a Black Lives Matter protest, students started a petition to have his name removed from the business school.

Paolo Volpin, the interim dean of City’s business school, said that the school’s black and ethnic minority community was leading a consultation to find “practical and measurable ways” to increase inclusion.

On 10 June, City initiated a review of all historic sources of funding, in order to determine if there are any other links with slavery, and to make recommendations.

The review is chaired by Hunada Nouss, a member of City’s council, and is expected to report in August.

Professor Sir Paul Curran, president at City, said: “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.”

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