City business school to drop Cass name over slavery links

London institution says use of Sir John Cass’ name is ‘incompatible with our values of diversity and inclusivity’

July 6, 2020
London cityscape

City, University of London has announced that it will remove the name of Sir John Cass from its business school because of the English merchant’s links to the development of the slave trade.

In a statement, the institution said that its council made the unanimous decision following a broad consultation on the basis that continued use of the Cass name was “incompatible with our values of diversity and inclusivity”.

The university’s business school was renamed Cass Business School in 2002 following a donation from the Sir John Cass Foundation, which has also committed to changing its name.  

City said that it would launch a consultation to determine a new name for the department, which will in the interim be known as City’s business school.

The institution launched a review of its historic sources of funding last month to determine whether there were any links with slavery and to make recommendations.

Sir John (1661-1718) has been described as a major figure in the early development of the Atlantic slave economy, dealing with slave agents in Africa and the Caribbean.

Julia Palca, chair of City’s council, said: “We acknowledge the great pain and hurt caused to members of our City and business school community and to many black people by the association of the school’s name with the slave trade.

“Any continued use of Sir John Cass’ name would be seen as condoning someone whose wealth in part derived from the exploitation of slavery. This is incompatible with our values of diversity and inclusivity. We have therefore taken the decision to remove the name”.

Paolo Volpin, interim dean of City's business school, added that the school’s black and ethnic minority community was leading a consultation to explore how it could increase inclusion in “practical and measurable ways”.

Last month, City initiated a review of all historic sources of funding to determine if there were any links with slavery and to make recommendations. The review is expected to report in August.

ellie.bothwell@timeshighereducation.com

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