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After 80 years, Maury Hall gets a new name

Maury Hall is being renamed to honor former U.S. Senator John W. Warner
Dan Addison

Maury Hall, home to UVA’s Naval ROTC program since it was built in 1942, has been renamed for former U.S. senator, Navy veteran and Secretary of the Navy John W. Warner (Law ’53).

The building’s longtime namesake, Matthew Fontaine Maury, was a commander in the Confederate States Navy. In making the change in March, the Board of Visitors noted that he had no affiliation to the University and was an outspoken advocate for slavery. The change came on the recommendation of the Board’s Buildings and Grounds Committee, which praised Warner as a “distinguished public servant and faithful friend to the University of Virginia.”

Warner, who died in 2021 at age 94, enlisted in the Navy at age 17 during World War II and interrupted his law school studies at UVA to serve again, as a ground officer with the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing during the Korean War. He was appointed undersecretary and then secretary of the Navy by President Richard Nixon, and launched his own political career in 1978, when he was elected to the Senate for the first of five terms.

Warner, a Republican, was known for his expertise on military affairs. He chaired the Armed Services Committee from 1999 to 2001 and again from 2003 to 2007.

Maury, a 19th century astronomer, oceanographer, meteorologist and cartographer, had no affiliation with UVA and at onset of the Civil War resigned his commission in the U.S. Navy and joined the Confederacy. He was also an outspoken proponent of establishing a commercial market of enslaved people with Brazil, so that plantation owners from slave-holding U.S. states could colonize the area.

The Maury name “does not meet the naming criteria established by the University,” the resolution passed by the Board said.

Warner Hall is the latest building to be renamed in the ongoing effort to recontextualize UVA’s historic landscape and make Grounds more welcoming to all. Other changes in recent years include:

  • Renaming Ruffner Hall, home of the School of Education and Human Development, in honor of Walter N. Ridley (Educ ’53) the first Black student to earn a degree at UVA. William Henry Ruffner, a 19th century educator, had no connection to the University and was a strict segregationist.
  • Renaming the Barringer Wing at the UVA Medical Center West Complex in honor of Dr. Francis S. Collins (Col ’70), an eminent physician-geneticist who led the International Human Genome Project and served as director of the National Institutes of Health. Paul Brandon Barringer was dean of the School of Medicine when UVA built its first hospital and was a prominent supporter of racial eugenics.
  • Removing the name of Henry Malcolm Withers from Law School’s Withers-Brown Hall. Withers served in the Confederate Army and spoke of his belief that Black Americans were inferior to whites and should be deported.
  • Renaming Jordan Hall for Dr. Vivian Pinn (Med ’67), who was the only woman and the only Black student in her medical school class and became the first director of the Office of Research on Women’s Health at the National Institutes of Health. Harvey E. Jordan was a former Medical School dean from the early 1900s who was a proponent of eugenics.