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The University of Minnesota's Nicholson Hall will get a new name after regents on Friday unanimously agreed to approve a request from some faculty members who raised concerns that Edward Nicholson stoked antisemitism when he served as dean decades ago.

Regent Mary Davenport urged people to "not take lightly the board's reflection and consideration to reopen this question."

The building will be referred to by its address, 216 Pillsbury Drive, until U leaders select a new name for it.

The Board of Regents has updated its policies in recent years to allow buildings to be renamed if the name is inconsistent with the U's mission, jeopardizes its integrity or "presents risk or harm to the reputation of the University." Those policies grew out of a 2019 controversy when regents faced an outcry from people who wanted them to rename four buildings — including Nicholson Hall — because their namesakes had been accused of backing segregation or engaging in other racist practices. U leaders said this was the first request they'd received under the new policy provision.

Last fall, current and former leaders of the U's Center for Jewish Studies asked university leaders to rename the building, submitting a 48-page paper that outlined concerns with Nicholson's tenure at the U. Nicholson worked at the U from 1895 to 1941, serving as its first dean of student affairs. The building was named after him in 1945.

The group wrote that Nicholson restricted mail delivery and limited speakers in ways that quashed political dissent. They said he enlisted others to help him surveil student groups, keeping reports that referred to students in racist and antisemitic terms. They said he shared some of that information with people outside the U, including political operatives and the FBI. And they said he worked to inappropriately influence regent selection.

The renaming request was also reviewed by interim President Jeff Ettinger and by the All-University Honors Committee, which also unanimously recommended changing the name. The group received more than 360 comments from people weighing in on the name change, nearly 74% of whom supported the effort.

The All-University Honors Committee will now research and propose a new name for the building, which will then be reviewed by the U president and Board of Regents. A timeline for that process hasn't yet been announced.