Imperial Faculty London urges elimination of statue and renaming of constructing | Imperial Faculty London

Imperial College London urges removal of statue and renaming of building |  Imperial College London

An investigation into Imperial College London’s historical links to the British Empire has recommended the university remove a statue and rename buildings and lecture halls celebrating scientists whose work championed eugenics and racism.

The college’s independent history group’s recommendations are designed to address racial inequalities and improve inclusion at the Russell Group University.

The report identified a number of problematic renowned scientific figures who were honored with buildings, rooms and academic positions in their name.

For example, it is demanding that a building named after English biologist and anthropologist Thomas Henry Huxley, who was praised for discovering that birds descended from dinosaurs, be renamed because of his racist beliefs about human intelligence.

The report says that Huxley’s essay Emancipation—Black and White “advocates a racial hierarchy of intelligence, a belief system of ‘scientific racism’ that nurtured the dangerous and false ideology of eugenics; whose legacies can still be felt today”.

A bust of Huxley, the first Dean of the Royal College of Science from 1881-85, should also be removed from the exhibition and kept in the college archives, it adds.

Lecture halls named after influential figures who championed eugenics, such as WD Hamilton, who taught genetics at the college from 1964 to 1977, should also be renamed.

The report also raised concerns about late 19th- and early 20th-century endowments by philanthropists Alfred and Otto Beit and Julius Wernher, three of the college’s major financial donors, because of the repressive treatment of the largely black migrant workers in the diamond and gold mines that make up they made their fortune.

The history group recommends renaming buildings named after the Beit brothers.

If a building or room is renamed, the reason should be publicly explained via a plaque or QR code.

The report also calls on the college to better recognize the achievements of several underappreciated women and black and ethnic minority scholars by establishing grants on their behalf. These include Narinder Singh Kapany, who was the first to transmit images over fiber optics, laying the foundation for high-speed internet technology.

Staff and students are now being consulted on the recommendations before the college decides what action to take early next year.

Imperial President Alice Gast said: “While we cannot change history, we can find ways to clarify what it means, learn lessons from it and make sure we don’t perpetuate legacies that we find abhorrent.”