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UNH Law School Faculty Call for Removal of 'Franklin Pierce' Name


The faculty of the University of New Hampshire Franklin Pierce School of Law have voted to support the removal of ‘Franklin Pierce’ from the law school’s name.

This comes less than a month after UNH announced it would evaluate the name, in light ofconcerns raised by studentsabout racism at the school and Franklin Pierce's ties to slavery.

On Monday, faculty members released a statement saying President Pierce’s reputation as a pro-slavery Northerner was counter to the school’s commitment to racial justice.

“While he may have been a product of his time, he is not a historical figure worthy of the honor of having New Hampshire’s only law school, part of the state’s flagship public university, named after him,” the statement reads.

Not all faculty are in agreement. Dean Megan Carpenter says that of 25 full-time law school faculty, twelve supported the resolution, six voted against it, one abstained, and six didn't vote.

"This is a great example where we see reasonable, well-intentioned reasonable people with very different opinions on the matter," Carpenter told NHPR.

"We're a law school," she continued. "Lawyers play a critical role in facilitating process, and we really want people to feel comfortable to come forward and speak their truth, regardless of where we land. In the end, I want to make sure we heard from diverse and historically marginalized opinions and listen to opinions we don't agree with."

The name change is just one of many issues being considered by a task force, which is expected to issue recommendations to Carpenter by the end of the month for how to address racism, diversity and inclusion at the law school. 

The final decision for changing the law school's name rests with the university system’s board of trustees.

Sarah Gibson joined NHPR's newsroom in 2018. She reports on education and demographics.
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