A message regarding Barnes Hall and Harris Hall

June 17, 2022

President Schatzel sent a message about residence halls names to the Towson University community on Friday.

Dear Towson University community,

I am pleased to announce that earlier today the University System of Maryland Board of Regents voted in support of my request to name two of the university’s residence halls, West Village 1 and West Village 2, after two extraordinary alumnae of Towson University — Marvis Barnes and Myra Harris.

Founded as the Maryland Normal School in 1866, TU was racially segregated as part of Maryland’s then-segregated educational system until the United States Supreme Court, with its 1954 decision in the case of Brown vs. The Board of Education, outlawed racial segregation in public schools. In 1959, Ms. Barnes and Ms. Harris changed the university forever as they earned their degrees and became TU’s first Black graduates.

Ms. Barnes and Ms. Harris paved the way for the thousands of students that follow in their footsteps still today. They continued to transform their communities through decades of service as teachers and administrators in Maryland’s public schools, further establishing their legacies as inspirational civic leaders in our region and state. I am truly honored to recognize their lifetime of achievement with such a fitting tribute to Ms. Barnes’ and Ms. Harris’ exceptional impact on the TU community. A formal dedication of Barnes and Harris Halls in West Village will take place later this fall.

This is yet another important step forward in our institution-wide mission to create a more diverse, equitable and inclusive campus community. While TU has made significant strides to become a pre-eminent nationally recognized leader in inclusive excellence, there is always more to be done. As an anchor institution that reflects the diverse population of our great state, we must continue this momentum to ensure a more equitable future for the next generation of Tigers and Marylanders.

This historic moment would not be possible without the considerable efforts of so many members of our TU community. I am very grateful to the members of the University Naming Committee for their months of diligent and tireless work in support of the process and their naming recommendation in honor of Ms. Barnes and Ms. Harris. They include:

  • Vernon J. Hurte, Vice President for Student Affairs, and Committee Chair
  • Alison Armstrong, University Advancement
  • Patricia Bradley, Vice President for Inclusion and Institutional Equity
  • Kameron Chung, Undergraduate Student
  • Jordan Deveaux, Student Government Association President
  • Andrew Diemer, Associate Professor of History
  • Paul-Sean Gray, Alumnus and TU Foundation Board Member
  • Desiree Rowe, Academic Senate Chair
  • Heather Sorensen, TU Staff Senate President
  • Ashley Todd-Diaz, Assistant Librarian for Special Collections and University Archives

I want to thank the members of the university’s three shared governance bodies – Academic Senate, Staff Senate and the Student Government Association – for their important participation in the process as well.

I extend my sincerest gratitude to those involved in this process for their unwavering dedication, as well as the University System of Maryland Board of Regents and Chancellor Jay A. Perman for their support throughout this process. I would also like to give special thanks to Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Vernon Hurte for providing outstanding leadership as chair of the Naming Committee.

As the nation pauses to celebrate Juneteenth this weekend, I can think of no better time to honor Ms. Barnes and Ms. Harris, and reflect on our collective role in combating racial inequality and inequity. I am so proud of our students, faculty, staff and countless members of the TU family for enacting this inspiring change for our community and honoring these two remarkable alumnae.

Thank you all for your continued support of our students and one another.

Kim Schatzel, Ph.D.