In October 2020, the IU Board of Trustees voted to remove David Starr Jordan’s name off campus which entailed renaming Jordan Hall, Jordan Avenue, the Jordan River and the Jordan Avenue Parking Garage. Fast forward to the start of the 2022-2023 school year, all of which have all been renamed.
Jordan was a 19th century zoology professor, former IU president and a member of the American eugenics movement. His beliefs conflicted with IU’s values in diversity and equity; hence the name changes.
Phoebe Wolfskill, an IU associate professor in American Studies and African American and African Diaspora studies, teaches the problematic history of eugenics in some of her classes.
“Naming a building, a street, a creek, and a parking lot after Jordan is a means of honoring him,” Wolfskill said in an email. “But as a eugenicist he should not be honored.”
Jordan Hall is now the Biology Building, Jordan Avenue is Eagleson Avenue, Jordan River is now Campus River and Jordan Avenue Parking Garage is East Parking Garage. However, Starr’s portrait as an IU president is still located in President’s Hall.
“It’s important that we don’t forget who David Starr Jordan was and what he wrote and believed,” Wolfskill said in the email. “We can’t simply write him out of history because that would mean attempting to forget our racist past and how it informs our present.”
IU junior Kaylyn Bates, who arrived at IU before the vote to remove Jordan’s name, said she was unaware who Jordan was when she first came to campus. When she discovered his beliefs, she said she was in support of the name change.
[Related: City of Bloomington to rename Jordan Avenue after important African American family]
Bates said people might be more willing to speak up when it comes to other racial and problematics issues that arise on campus because of the name change,
“Instead of ignoring students or others, IU listened and took action after the vote,” Bates said.
IU sophomore Tessa Haag, who came to campus during the name removal process, said it would have bothered her if she had been on campus before the name removal process and knew about Jordan.
The purpose is to change for the better and learn from past mistakes, Haag said.
“People should be aware and appreciate that it’s being changed finally.”
IU chose to rename Jordan Avenue to Eagleson Avenue to honor the Eagleson family. The Eagleson family left a historical mark at IU and in Bloomington.
[Related: City installs Eagleson Avenue signs, replacing Jordan Avenue]
The family had IU’s first male Black athlete and first Black female graduate. They left an effect on the community as their relatives were also a Monroe County Woman of the Century and one was a member of the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II.