Process still ongoing to change name of MTSU’s Forrest Hall

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – When people in New Orleans woke up Monday morning, a prominent Confederate monument was gone with plans for three more to be removed soon.

Tennessee has dealt with its own issues with remembering its Confederate past. The decision to rename Forrest Hall on the campus of Middle Tennessee State University could still be months away.

The building is named after Nathan Bedford Forrest, one of the founding members of the KKK. The decision to change that is now in the hands of the Tennessee Historical Commission.

It was controversial from start, but the possibility of renaming Forrest Hall is still alive and well.

“The law sets forth a fairly clear pathway for these. We’ve made a request to the commission, and the commission now needs to weigh in on that request,” said MTSU spokesman Andrew Oppmann. “We’re looking forward to the opportunity to presenting our recommendation to the commission and look forward to the process.”

A 17-member task force recommended the name change to MTSU president Dr. Sidney McPhee, who approved it. The Tennessee Board of Regents also unanimously recommended the name change, sending it to the state’s historical commission.

“We’ve been told by the Tennessee Historical Commission that they are going to consider our petition at its June meeting, so we’ve been asked to prepare for that,” Oppmann said. “We’re looking forward to the opportunity to presenting our recommendation to the commission and look forward to the process.”

Even if the commission takes up the name change issue at its next meeting, it won’t be a done deal. It will have to hold public meetings to give people for and against their say.

The commission’s executive director, Patrick McIntyre Jr., told News 2 by email, “The initial hearing is limited to deciding ‘which interested entities, groups or individuals should be given written notice’ about a petition for waiver to the Tennessee Heritage Protection Act and to decide if ‘supplemental notice by publication is needed’, prior to a final hearing.”

MTSU now has its own Board of Trustees, and members were given an update on the renaming of Forrest Hall at its inaugural meeting.

Oppmann said President McPhee updated the board “on the on-going Forrest Hall issue and its status before the commission.” McPhee’s decision went to the Tennessee Board of Regents for consideration before the new board was formed.

The commission’s next meeting is Friday, June 16 at Pickwick Landing State Park.

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