Sanger Hall

On November 4, 2019, the Chatham Committee on Recognition and Memorialization examined issues surrounding the naming of Sanger Hall on Chatham University's Shadyside Campus. For more detailed information, please download the report below.

Message from the Board of Trustees: 1 March 2020

In 1998, a donor gave Chatham a considerable gift to construct a lecture hall in Coolidge Hall and name it in honor of Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood who in the first half of the 20th century championed—often in the face of fierce resistance—women’s rights to make their own reproductive choices. The gift agreement required Chatham to return the monetary gift to the donor if Chatham ever removed Margaret Sanger’s name from the lecture hall.  

Student protests about the naming of the lecture hall raised the campus community’s awareness that Margaret Sanger’s legacy brings two of Chatham’s core institutional values into apparent conflict. On one hand, Sanger’s work as an early and leading champion in the struggle for women’s reproductive rights, and as a proponent of women’s self-empowerment, is consistent with Chatham’s longstanding commitment to women. On the other hand, her alignment with the Eugenics movement in her efforts to win the difficult struggle for women’s reproductive rights is antithetical to Chatham’s commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion. 

In 2019, Chatham University empaneled a committee of students, faculty, staff, alumni, and leaders from the Pittsburgh community to consider the Sanger Hall issue within the broader context of the naming of facilities and memorials across campus. The committee was charged with three tasks:

  1. Review facility names, campus memorials and other recognition for any concerns of conflict with Chatham’s values and mission.
  2. If conflict is found with Chatham’s values and mission, make recommendations to the President and Board of Trustees on appropriate steps for Chatham to take (e.g., removal of name, renaming, use of educational context plaques).
  3. Identify potential new opportunities for naming, recognition, or memorialization to more fully represent our campus community and the value our mission and campus community place on diversity and inclusion.
Download the Full Report (pdf)