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Craven Hall
Craven Hall, CSUSM’s administration building, is named after the controversial late State Sen. William A. Craven. Photo courtesy of CSUSM
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‘A major victory’: CSU board approves Craven Hall renaming 

SAN MARCOS — The state-level board of trustees overseeing the California State University system has given Cal State San Marcos the green light to rename one of its on-campus buildings that has been a source of strife due to its controversial namesake. 

Craven Hall, named for the late Sen. William Craven, will now be renamed simply to the Administration Building until a workgroup reaches a recommendation for a new name, CSUSM officials announced Thursday. 

The CSU board of trustees approved the recommendation as part of its consent calendar on Wednesday after being brought forward by a task force at CSUSM following 18 months of deliberation and passed on by President Ellen Neufeldt earlier this month. 

“I want to thank the task force once again for its thoughtful research and deliberation on this matter, which included extensive consultation with students, faculty, staff, alumni and members of our broader community,” Neufeldt said in a Thursday message to the campus community. “As we move forward, I know that this decision is grounded in our values of who we are as an institution that prioritizes diversity, equity and inclusion as well as the success of all our students.”

This change has been a long time coming for many community members, particularly students and staff of color, who have asked the university to reexamine how they honor Craven’s legacy. 

While he has been called “the father of CSUSM” for his tireless efforts to secure support and funding to open the university, he was also known for his repeated offensive statements about Hispanic and undocumented people in the 1990s.

Efforts to change the name date back nearly 30 years, with the school’s faculty senate in 1994 voting to change the name, but no action was taken by administrators. Only in 2021, when the faculty senate voted in favor of a name change once again, university leaders called for the organization of a task force to seriously consider the matter.

“This is after three decades of struggle to change the name, so it’s a major victory as far as looking at racial justice across the United States. Although this is a Cal State San Marcos outcome, it speaks to a larger struggle,” said Dr. Xuan Santos, an associate professor at CSUSM who participated in the task force. “This is just one of many things that needs to happen for social equity to exist. This wasn’t just about professors, students … it’s about the regional and statewide communities.” 

Neufeldt asked the campus community for patience while the school updates its physical and digital signage and descriptive references to the building.

In addition, a work group will be tasked with considering other ways to preserve Craven’s legacy on campus, which was another recommendation by the task force.

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