In November 2021, the Central Student Government (CSG) passed Resolution 11-048, “A Declarative Resolution to Remove James B. Angell’s Name from Angell Hall and the Angell Scholar Award.” This resolution was sent to the Office of the President. Pursuant to the published process for historical name reviews on university buildings, the President’s Advisory Committee on University History (PACOUH) carefully considered the resolution.
The CSG resolution raised claims about James Angell’s participation in racist practices, including negotiating the terms of the Angell Treaty and ties to the organization Michigamua. PACOUH’s initial exploration, based on the latest scholarship, indicates that regarding the treaty, Angell was attempting to prevent the worst outcomes of a rising tide of anti-Chinese prejudice in the U.S., rather than to promote its aims. Additionally, the committee could find no evidence that Angell had any relationship with the organization that came to be known as Michigamua.
President Coleman concurred with the committee’s assessment, bringing the process to closure at this time. The committee urged those interested in the Angell topic – whether it be CSG or others – to address several areas for further development. The committee also noted that the Angell name and Angell’s overall role on campus could be germane to the work of the university’s Inclusive History Project recently announced by President Coleman.
- CSG resolution 11-048
- President Coleman’s message to CSG and PACOUH’s findings
- DEI website
- Inclusive History Project
President Coleman’s message to CSG
Dear CSG members,
I am writing in response to CSG’s Assembly Resolution 11-048, “A Declarative Resolution to Remove James B. Angell’s Name from Angell Hall and the Angell Scholar Award,” submitted in November 2021.
As you will see in the accompanying memo and report, the President’s Advisory Committee on University History (PACOUH) performed an initial exploration of your request to remove the Angell name. I urge you to review the report in its entirety. The committee found that in his work on the Angell Treaty, James Angell was attempting to prevent the worst outcomes of a rising tide of anti-Chinese sentiment in the United States; and they also found no ties between Angell and the organization Michigamua. PACOUH does not recommend a full-scale review at this time, and I have accepted that recommendation.
Thank you for participating in the important and often challenging work of exploring the history of the University of Michigan and its leaders. The involvement of our community, and particularly of our students and student leaders, is a key part of what makes Michigan so strong.
I hope you and your peers will continue this engagement, especially as we strengthen and build upon ways to better understand the University’s past and present, including the launch of DEI 2.0, the Inclusive History Project, and other related efforts. With your voices, we will be able to achieve Michigan’s brightest possible future.
Thank you again and I offer my best wishes for a fabulous fall semester.
Mary Sue Coleman