University of Southern California President Carol Folt said Thursday the university has removed the name of Rufus Von KleinSmid from the Center for International and Public Affairs building on campus because of his views on developing racial homogeny.
“Dr. Von KleinSmid was an active supporter of eugenics, and his writings on the subject are at direct odds with USC’s multi-cultural community and our mission of diversity and inclusion,” Folt said.
A bust of Von KleinSmid was also removed from the campus.
Eugenics is the study and practice of conforming the human population to create a race of people alike in physical features.
Since the German Nazi regime in the 1930s and 1940s bolstered that science, the practice has been denounced worldwide.
The Executive Committee of the USC Board of Trustees unanimously approved Folt’s motion to rename the building on Wednesday and the signage and bust came down that day, USC stated.
Von KleinSmid served as the fifth president of USC, between 1921 and 1947. According to USC, during his tenure, the university’s research and academic enterprise expanded. But USC stated Von KleinSmid was also an influential eugenicist who encouraged the involuntary sterilization of people.
“Von KleinSmid’s history is well known by our students, faculty and staff who have sought the removal of his name and statue for a number of years,” USC stated.
The building, which is topped with a globe, will temporarily be called The Center for International and Public Affairs, the university stated, and USC will begin an “inclusive process to rename the building.”
The university also stated it will develop a community advisory board for the Department of Public Safety, which was proposed in 2015 but never fully implemented, and it will enhance its Task Force on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
“We urgently need training to raise awareness of conscious and unconscious biases,” Folt said. “Our students and others are already developing programs.”