The founder of Jackson Labs Clarence Cook Little. His views on eugenics and work defending the tobacco industry were well documented.
SOMESVILLE – As early as 2016, there were debates at the University of Michigan about the eponymous science building named after Clarence C. Little, who was university president from 1925 to 1929. In 2017 Michigan launched a full review of the history of Little’s belief in eugenics and his work for the tobacco industry. In 2018 the university removed his name.
So Little’s past was hidden in plain sight. But it wasn’t until the recent Black Lives Matter movement reached its recent apex did Maine’s Orono campus and Jackson Labs respond by removing his name from a building and auditorium. I’m sure it was a fraught decision for JAX to remove the name of the lab’s founder from the C.C. Little Center. Little’s tireless efforts to rebuild the lab after it was destroyed in the Bar Harbor fires of 1947 was legendary.
But Little didn’t have a huge impact on the University of Maine where he spent three years as president before going to Michigan. Much of the time he was building the precursor to Jackson Labs on Bar Harbor. UMaine decided to take Little’s name off of a building on June 29.
Why did it take so long? I put the question to the school and got this response from the PR head with this statement from UMaine president Joan Ferrini-Mundy:
“I agree with the task force that the renaming of Little Hall is necessary. It provides an opportunity to promote reflection and conversations about the meaning of diversity, equity and inclusion on our campus, and to address specific issues of racism … Ours is a diverse and welcoming university community, brought together by our differences and our most highly held values — among them civility, inclusion, compassion, understanding, personal responsibility and respect.”
Ferrini-Mundy felt a need to task a committee in March to investigate whether to remove the name, three years after Michigan had already done so.