The John McIntyre Building has been renamed the McIntyre Building as part of an on-going push at the University of Glasgow to name more buildings after women and minorities.
This renaming is the latest initiative of the Campus Naming Group. This is the group’s second renaming after last year’s baptism of the Estates and Buildings headquarters as the Isabella Elder Building.
The project, nicknamed “patriarchitecture”, was successfully lobbied for by last year’s SRC president Liam King. It aims to honour the achievements of women and minorities who are alumni of, or have close historical ties with, the University.
The SRC formally raised the issue of building names with Principal Anton Muscatelli and other senior managers in the 2015/16 academic year before bringing the policy to the University’s Equality and Diversity Strategy Committee and Estates Committee. The policy was unanimously adopted and is now being incorporated into the £1billion campus redevelopment plans.
Speaking at the renaming ceremony on Friday 14 October, current SRC president Ameer Ibrahim said of the change, “There’s a little bit of history and background as to why this renaming took place. The building was historically called McIntyre after John McIntyre who had donated the initial sum to have the building built.
“He had extended that donation in memory of his wife, Anne McIntyre, and this renaming gives recognition to that.”
During the ceremony, which was attended by SRC officials as well as members of the University’s senior management group, University Archivist Lesley Richmond gave a brief account of the history of the building and the lives of the McIntyres.
Richmond indicated to The Glasgow Guardian that the next renamings will take place in Professor’s Square as currently these buildings have numbers rather than names.
Women outlined by the SRC as meriting architectural recognition include physicist Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, physician Marion Gilchrist, the first women BSc graduate Ruth Pirret, and promoters of higher education for women in Scotland Jessie Campbell, Janet Galloway, and Isabella Elder.
The SRC also put forward a list black men who the University could name new buildings after, including James McCune Smith, who was born a slave in the U.S. and graduated in 1837, and Andrew Watson.
The McIntyre Building, opened to students in 1885, was originally home to the Glasgow University Union (GUU) until the GUU moved to its current premises in 1930. Between 1931 and 1968, the building functioned as the Queen Margaret College (or women’s union). Thereafter the building became home to the Students’ Representatives Council offices, the Rector’s Office, Glasgow University Student Television, The Glasgow Guardian, Glasgow University Magazine, and Subcity radio station.
Ms Richmond also explained that the building was not named John McIntyre until the 1960s, when the QMU, the occupier of the building after the GUU moved to its current location in 1930, vacated and moved to the University Gardens. So rather than a renaming, what the ceremony was really doing is putting an end to a mistake that had been lasting for about half a century and reclaiming the name of the building as Dr McIntyre asked in his bequeath.
After the presentation, Ms Richmond and SRC President Ameer Ibrahim presented a poster illustrating the story of the building and its patrons that has been placed at the Welcome Point. Another poster has also been placed commemorating Janet Galloway, who has a dedicated plaque at the McIntyre building’s lecture theatre but its poor state of conservation makes it difficult to read. Galloway was a great champion of the movement to provide higher education for women and became the first secretary of Queen Margaret College.
After the ceremony, Ms Richmond told THE GLASGOW GUARDIAN about the next renaming to be carried out by the group. These will target the buildings at Professor’s square as currently these only have numbers but not names. The women honoured will include: Ruth Pirret (1874-1939) the first woman to graduate BSc from the University, who also worked with Frederick Soddy on his research into the chemistry of radioactive elements; Dame Anne Louise McIlroy (1874-1968) the first woman to be officially registered as a research student at the University and Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, a university graduate honoured for her discovery of radio pulsars, controversially, her thesis supervisor was awarded a Nobel Prize for his role in the discovery, but she was not given the award. It is expected that Dame Jocelyn will come to the inauguration herself. However, women are not the only minority that the group seeks to honour, and one of the buildings will be named after William Jamieson, a blind 17th century history lecturer.
Ms Richmond commented on the future role of the group regarding the Western Infirmary development: “I think that’s when the group will really come into its own, when the buildings actually go up there will be opportunities to name rooms, buildings and streets and squares too. The group also ensures that we are naming them after people who deserve to have a building named after them”.
The Glasgow Guardian asked Ameer Ibrahim about his thoughts on the renaming: “Today has been a historic day, it reflects the inclusive diversity of the University and the history of diversity here at the university and giving recognition to who the building was originally meant to be named after. It is a huge step forward and positive change on campus. When we are outlining plans to give names to different buildings around campus we have to be conscientious to really think about and reflect on the achievements that individuals in history past and also reflect the diversity on campus as well.”
He also commented on his project of creating a student advisory committee to engage students on the campus redevelopment project: “We are creating a sustainable platform over the life of the development so that new students will go on to the committee every year and we are going to be looking at a broad range of projects within the development, so we are going to do workshops in these committee sessions. This committee is also a consultancy group to give the views of students as to what they want to see in the campus development and that will be fed back to states and buildings and other individuals directly involved in the planning of the development.”
SRC gender equality officer Thais Ramdani also gave her thoughts on the ceremony: “It is important to remind people that there are a lot of women that have been a part of the University and having buildings to show that is quite important. I’m really hoping that there will be an effort to make sure that the new buildings that are being built do have the names of women that were successful in their field of study, because they were so often ignored.”