Princeton Renames Former Wilson College for CEO and Alumna Mellody Hobson

A historic day for Princeton

Mellody Hobson
Mellody Hobson in 2017.
Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.

Earlier this year, Princeton University announced that it would rename multiple schools that had previously been named for former president Woodrow Wilson. Before his time in the White House, Wilson had been the president of Princeton. However, Wilson’s historical legacy has not aged terribly well, to say the least — his views on a host of subjects were considered racist in his own era, and they’ve only gotten more abhorrent with the passage of time.

The former Wilson College — subsequently renamed First College — now has an even newer name, and it’s one that has a newfound historical significance. Bloomberg reports that a high-profile alumna has donated a sizable sum to the project — namely, Mellody Hobson, the co-CEO of Ariel Investments. The new residential college, set to replace First College, will be named Hobson College as a result.

As the article notes, Hobson College will be “the university’s first residential college named for a Black woman.”

In a statement announcing the donation, Hobson spoke about wanting her donation to have a positive effect. “My hope is that my name will remind future generations of students — especially those who are Black and brown and the ‘firsts’ in their families — that they too belong,” she said.

Bloomberg reports that the donation came from Hobson as well as the Hobson/Lucas Family Foundation. It’s a historic moment for Princeton, and time will tell whether Hobson’s gift has accomplished its intended function.

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