Ku Lama

The Newsletter of the University of Hawai'i System
Nov 7, 1997
Vol. 4 / No. 11


The Associated Students of the University of Hawai'i last month passed a resolution calling for the renaming of Porteus Hall on the Manoa campus. In their resolution (contact the ASUH office in the UHM Campus Center for a complete text) the students contend that the academic work of Professor Stanley D. Porteus "was generally discriminatory in nature" and that a building bearing his name is not in keeping with our institution's focus on diversity.

Professor Porteus, who died two years before the building was named in 1974, was internationally recognized for his contributions to the field of psychology, especially for the Porteus Maze Test that he devised to measure intelligence, and fundamental contributions to clinical psychology.

What ASUH objects to is the theory he developed of race differences based on genetic inheritance, from which he drew social implications supporting the dominant beliefs of his day concerning race and gender.

ASUH also proposes the building be given a Native Hawaiian name "to advance the University's stated focus of preserving the Native Hawaiian heritage."

The Board of Regents, which is authorized to name or rename buildings based on recommendations from the administration, upheld the Porteus Hall decision in 1975 after public hearings generated strong and emotional testimony on both sides of the question. A history of the debate appears in the book Building a Rainbow.

I believe that we should follow through on the ASUH proposal as expeditiously as possible. We need to review the request to ensure that it conforms to board and University policies and procedures, study the history of the naming of the building and obtain as much input as possible from UHM students, faculty, staff and administration, as well as external constituents who may have an interest in the matter.

President, University of Hawai`i and
Chancellor, University of Hawai`i at Manoa

Mortimer, Kenneth P. "President's message." KuLama: The newsletter of the University of Hawai'i System 7 Nov 1997 v 4 n 11