Cass Business School: London college changes name because of links to slave trade

Famous school is latest institution to act on Black Lives Matter protests

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - JANUARY 18:  Students of the Cass Business School, University of London, Executive MBA Dubai Programme, listen to a lecture by Rob Melville, a Cass professor based in London, at a workshop at the DIFC in Dubai on January 18, 2009.  (Randi Sokoloff / The National)  For story by Michael Jalili. *** Local Caption ***  RS010-0118-CASS.jpg
Powered by automated translation

City, University of London has decided to change the name of its world-leading business school because of its link with an 18th century English slave trader.

The school, which has a campus in Dubai as well as in the British capital, on Monday removed Sir John Cass from its name.

The institution formerly known as “Cass Business School” will now be referred to as City’s Business School while a new name is determined.

The university is the latest to review the historical ties to its name after the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement since African American George Floyd was killed by white police officers in Minneapolis on May 25.

International anti-racism protests have sparked debate about commemorating people with links to the slave trade, with statues being removed around the world.

Last month, Colston Hall in Bristol, south-west England, changed its name because Edward Colston was a slave merchant.

This was days after a statue of Colston was toppled in the city after the international protests.

On Monday, the London university’s governing body said a unanimous decision was made because “continued use of the Cass name was incompatible with City’s values of diversity and inclusion”.

The prestigious business school was renamed 18 years ago, after a donation from the Sir John Cass Foundation.

The Foundation, an educational charity, was established in 1748 and some of its money was acquired through the slave trade.

“We acknowledge the great pain and hurt caused to members of our City and Business School community and to many Black people by the association of the School’s name with the slave trade," said Julia Palca, chairwoman of City’s council.

"Any continued use of Sir John Cass’s name would be seen as condoning someone whose wealth in part derived from the exploitation of slavery."

Prof Paolo Volpin, interim dean at City’s Business School, said it was important that the move was followed with “clear and measurable actions that demonstrate our commitment to racial equality and inclusion”.

Last month, City began a review of all historic sources of funding to determine if there were any other links with slavery. The review is expected to be reported in August.

Almost 4,000 students enrol at City’s business school each year, in undergraduate, postgraduate and executive education programmes.