Michelle Obama Celebrates Alma Mater Princeton Removing Woodrow Wilson’s Name from School

LOS ANGELES-CA-JULY 16: U.S. first lady Michelle Obama arrives to deliver gives the keynote address during Grammy Museum's Jane Ortner Education Award luncheon honoring Southern California-based educator Sunshine Cavalluzzi and six-time Grammy nominee Janelle Monae July 16, 2014, in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Former first lady Michelle Obama on Monday praised her alma mater, Princeton University, for dropping 28th President Woodrow Wilson’s name from its public policy school.

“Heartened to see my alma mater make this change, and even prouder of the students who’ve been advocating for this kind of change on campus for years,” Obama wrote on social media. “Let’s keep finding ways to be more inclusive to all students—at Princeton and at every school across the country.”

Obama graduated from the Ivy League school with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology in 1985.

Princeton’s Board of Trustees recently voted to drop Wilson’s name from the university’s School of Public and International Affairs and residential college.

“We have taken this extraordinary step because we believe that Wilson’s racist thinking and policies make him an inappropriate namesake for a school whose scholars, students, and alumni must be firmly committed to combatting the scourge of racism in all its forms,” Princeton University President Christopher Eisgruber said in a statement Saturday.

“Wilson’s racism was significant and consequential even by the standards of his own time,” added Eisgruber. “He segregated the federal civil service after it had been racially integrated for decades, thereby taking America backward in its pursuit of justice.”

The school has been known as the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs since 1948, but it will now simply be called The Princeton School of Public and International Affairs.

The release notes that in 2015 student-led protests at the university “called attention to Wilson’s racism,” and the university formed an ad hoc committee to study the late U.S. president’s legacy at the school.

Traces of Wilson’s legacy include not just the name of the School of Public and International Affairs but the name of a residential college, which the university intends to shutter after two new residential colleges complete construction.

The UPI contributed to this report. 

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