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University of East London moves forward with Sir John Cass name change

CASS building

A review is underway of all sources of historic funding

The Cass School of Education and Communities at the University of East London is changing its name following concerns raised about links to historic injustice.

Following the establishment of an independent working group, a review is underway of all sources of historic funding together with the development of a new institutional naming policy that reflects the University’s commitment to the advancement of an inclusive, anti-racist institution. We are about to begin a consultation with staff and stakeholders about a new name but, in the interim and with the agreement of the Vice-Chancellor & President, the word “Cass” has been removed.

The school was named after Sir John Cass in 2008 following a donation from the Sir John Cass’s Foundation, a charity established in 1748 to promote the education of young people in London, especially those with disadvantaged background. However, Sir John Cass is known to have made money from the slave trade.

The name sparked concern and dismay in light of global unrest that followed the death of US citizen George Floyd at the hands of police in May and during subsequent protests by the Black Lives Matter movement. A statue of Sir John Cass was immediately removed from the Education and Communities building.

The move is in line with the thoughts of the Sir John Cass’s Foundation itself which is also undergoing a similar review that, it says, will result in a name change.
In the interim, the school will be known as the School of Education and Communities, or Educom for short.

Richard Harty, dean of the School of Education and Communities, said, “While we await the conclusions of the working group, it is only right that we remove Cass from our name.

“While the charity’s work has given students a number of benefits over the years, it is no longer appropriate to call attention to the activities of a man who profited from the abhorrent trade in human lives.”

The University of East London celebrates diversity, fosters inclusivity and is committed to an environment of mutual respect and equity for every member of our learning community.

The University was ranked No 1 in the UK for addressing inequalities (second in the world) by the Times Higher Education Global Impact Ranking, 2020