Even if the Forrest Hall task force recommends to rename the building, the decision would only be the first step in the process. Such a measure would still have to pass muster with the Tennessee Board of Regents and proposed to the Tennessee Heritage Protection Act of 2016.
While MTSU president Sidney McPhee maintains the right to rename sections of buildings, universities must go through the Board of Regents to change the name of an entire building. That’s pursuant to the board’s Naming Buildings and Facilities and Building Plaques policy.
According to that policy, “the prerogative and privilege of such namings on the campuses of the Tennessee Board of Regents System are vested in the Board.”
Once a committee is chosen by the university president to discuss name ideas, they must compile a report of possible names with justifications, and then send their report to the university president. From there, the president sends his or her personal preference with the committee’s reports to the TBR for approval.
MTSU’s Forrest Hall task force must first decide to change the name before the school can begin filing for approval with the TBR for a new name.
As the Forrest Hall task force remains in the preemptive stage of the approval process, the Tennessee Heritage Protection Act of 2016 (THPA) is currently awaiting a vote by the Tennessee State Senate. The House has already approved the legislation.
This revised act would prohibit the renaming of any “statue, monument, memorial, nameplate, plaque, historic flag display, school, street, bridge, building, park, preserve, or reserve” on public property that is named in honor of a historic military figure without a two-thirds vote from the Tennessee Historical Society.
If passed, the only exceptions where a structure or other memorial dedicated to a historical figure would be removed is if it interferes with public property operated by the state Department of Transportation or if a waiver to change the historical dedication is granted.
The act was proposed by State Rep. Steve McDaniel (R-Parkers Crossroads) and Senator Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro), a member of the Forrest Hall Task Force and alumnus of MTSU.
A couple of scenarios emerge in terms of Forrest Hall and MTSU. If the task force recommends a name change and the TBR approves such a change before the heritage preservation legislation goes into effect on July 1, then the building’s name could change.
But if such a proposal occurs after July 1, then it would involved the Tennessee Historical Commision to weigh in.
Then, if the THPA is passed, MTSU would have to be granted a waiver to change the name of the building because it is on public property and is named in honor of a “historical military figure,” unless the name change was approved by the TBR prior the the bill going into effect in July.
Even if the Forrest Hall task force decides to change the MTSU building’s name, MTSU has a long journey before it is able to rename the hall.
This article appeared in our March 21 print edition. For more of our Forrest Hall coverage, click here.
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To contact News Editor Amanda Freuler, email firstname.lastname@example.org.