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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

VPCC’s Building Renaming Honors Kecoughtan Tribe

Kecoughtan Hall (VPCC)

HAMPTON — Virginia Peninsula Community College is renaming Griffin and Wythe halls, which are connected and function as one building, to Kecoughtan Hall.

The name is a tribute to the Kecoughtan tribe, the early settlers of the land where VPCC’s Hampton campus is located.

“We will be working to change over the signage and other references to Griffin/Wythe during the spring 2024 semester. It will be a gradual process,” said Steven Felker, vice president for Institutional Effectiveness and Transformation.

Three years ago, the Virginia State Board for Community Colleges asked local college advisory boards to review the appropriateness of the names of their colleges, campuses, and facilities.

As a result, on July 1, 2022, Virginia Peninsula Community College became the name of the institution formerly known as Thomas Nelson Community College. Thomas Nelson Jr., after whom the College was named, was a Revolutionary War hero, signer of the Declaration of Independence, the fourth governor of Virginia, and a slaveholder.

VPCC notes while the state board oversees the names of Virginia’s Community Colleges and its 23 institutions and campuses, each institution is responsible for the names of buildings and classrooms.

After VPCC officials formed the College and Facilities Naming Taskforce to look into the college’s name, it also began to re-evaluate the names of its buildings and facilities, determining Griffin and Wythe halls, named after contemporaries of the college’s original namesake, should also be renamed.

The task force took a number of factors into consideration, the college said, among them not naming buildings after individuals, living or dead; and tying new names to the region’s history or geography. The task force conducted a community survey, and more than 300 responses were received, mostly from students, faculty and staff.

As Griffin and Wythe halls don’t have doors that separate them and appear in many ways to be one building. Felker said the task force decided it made sense to have a single name.

“Also, taskforce members felt it would be easier to direct students to a single building that houses most of the College’s support services rather than having to use two distinct names they would need to remember,” he said.

The College Board said the new name is more inclusive in that it acknowledges and honors the original Native American cultures of the Peninsula, noting the area now known as Hampton used to be called Kecoughtan.

The board also said by going with Kecoughtan, it set the tone for future names, which could include a Powhatan Hall, Paspahegh Hall, or Chickahominy Hall.

It also was recommended a plaque or display be installed in the renamed building providing historical background.

Three other buildings on the Hampton campus — Moore, Diggs and Harrison halls
— also were named after Nelson’s contemporaries. However, as they are scheduled to be replaced by a new building in the coming years, it was determined there was no point in changing those names.

For more information on VPCC, go to its web page.

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