Cleveland State Board of Trustees voted to remove the name of Cleveland-Marshall from the College of Law

On Nov. 17, the Cleveland State University Board of Trustees voted to remove the name of Cleveland-Marshall from the College of Law. The College of Law had held the name since 1946 when John Marshall College of Law and the Cleveland Law School merged.

In the unanimous vote by the board to change the name, the Law College will now be referred to as Cleveland State University College of Law. 

“This was a consequential decision, and I thank the Board for its careful consideration,” President Laura Bloomberg said in a statement.  “I am proud of the thorough, inclusive process we undertook as a community of scholars to carefully gather and consider the views of our students, alumni, faculty, staff and the broader community.”

John Marshall was a Chief Justice on the United States Supreme Court. Marshall also owned slaves at the time and made legal rulings on slaves.

“While Chief Justice John Marshall’s contributions to American jurisprudence are significant and will continue to be an important part of our curriculum, his ownership of slaves and his beliefs and actions relating to slavery are contrary to the values of our University and a disservice to our community,” Bloomberg said.

The decision comes after comprehensive reviews by the law school name committee and the ad hoc committee. On the law school name committee, Professor David Forte and Professor Stephen Lazarus argued why the name should be kept the same. 

The ad hoc committee unanimously recommended the removal of the name Cleveland-Marshall. A decision Bloomberg endorsed to the board.

The law college launched a survey to approximately 4,500 stakeholders. Only 1,349 stakeholders responded to the survey, those being alumni, students, legal community members, CSU community members, and faculty. 

Of the 1,349 respondents, 50.6 percent voted to keep the name, while 40.6 percent voted to change the name.

“I understand that this has been an emotional issue for many members of our community,” Bloomberg said. “I hope we can all move forward in agreement that the true value and strength of our College of Law lies not in a name, but in the quality of education we offer and the talents and diversity of our students, faculty, staff and alumni.”