Griffin, Wythe Halls to be Renamed Kecoughtan Hall

Virginia Peninsula Community College is renaming Griffin and Wythe halls, which are connected and function as one building, to Kecoughtan Hall. The name is a tribute to the Kecoughtan tribe, the early settlers of the land where VPCC’s Hampton campus is located.

“We will be working to change over the signage and other references to Griffin/Wythe during the spring 2024 semester. It will be a gradual process,” said Steven Felker, vice president for Institutional Effectiveness and Transformation.

In deciding on Kecoughtan, the College Board cited the name as more inclusive, as it acknowledges and honors the original Native American cultures of the Peninsula. The area now known as Hampton used to be called Kecoughtan.

The board also said by going with Kecoughtan, it sets the tone for future names, which could consist of Powhatan Hall, Paspahegh Hall, or Chickahominy Hall. It also was recommended a plaque or display be installed in the renamed building that provides the historical background for the Kecoughtan reference.

Three years ago, the Virginia State Board for Community Colleges asked local college advisory boards to review the appropriateness of the names of their colleges, campuses, and facilities. On July 1, 2022, Virginia Peninsula Community College became the new name of the institution formerly known as Thomas Nelson Community College. And while the state board oversees the names of the VCCS’ 23 institutions and campuses, each institution is responsible for the names of buildings and classrooms.

After VPCC officials formed the College and Facilities Naming Taskforce to look into the College’s name, it began to re-evaluate the names of its buildings and facilities. It was determined Griffin and Wythe halls, named after contemporaries of the College’s original namesake, should be renamed.

The taskforce considered many factors, among them not naming buildings after individuals, living or dead; and tying new names to the region’s history or geography. The taskforce conducted a community survey, and more than 300 responses were received, mostly from students, faculty and staff. College board members Izabela Ciezynski and Joe Fuentes were co-chairs of the taskforce, which included representation from VPCC’s four constituency groups:  faculty senate, college support staff association, mid-level managers, and student government.

Griffin and Wythe halls appear in many ways to be one building. Felker said the taskforce decided it made sense to have a single name.

“Also, taskforce members felt it would be easier to direct students to a single building that houses most of the College’s support services rather than having to use two distinct names they would need to remember,” he said.

Three other buildings on the Hampton campus — Moore, Diggs and Harrison halls —also were named after Nelson’s contemporaries. However, they are scheduled to be replaced by a new building in the coming years, so officials determined changing those names is unnecessary.

Thomas Nelson Jr., after whom the College was named, was a Revolutionary War hero, signer of the Declaration of Independence, the fourth governor of Virginia, and a slaveholder.

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