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Cass Business School Drops Name Due To Slave Trade Links

Cass Business School will be temporarily named City’s Business School while a new name is decided

By  Thomas Nugent

Tue Jul 7 2020

City, University of London has announced that its Business School will no longer be known as Cass Business School. The announcement comes after consultations about the historic links of Sir John Cass—after whom the school was named—to the slave trade.  

The decision was taken by City’s Council on July 3rd, after a broad consultation about the fact that some of Sir John Cass’ wealth was obtained through his links to the slave trade. The unanimous decision was taken on the grounds that to continue to use the Cass name went against City’s values of diversity and inclusion.

The Business School was renamed Cass Business School in 2002 after a $6.24 million donation from the Sir John Cass Foundation. The foundation was established in 1748, and is named after Sir John Cass, an English merchant who was also a major figure in the early development of the slave trade. 

The London school, which is located in the heart of one of the world’s leading financial centers, will be temporarily referred to as City’s Business School while consultations about a new name are set in motion. 

Julia Palca, chair of City’s Council, said:“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. 

“Any continued use of Sir John Cass’ name would be seen as condoning someone whose wealth in part derived from the exploitation of slavery […] We have therefore taken the decision to remove the name”.

Professor Sir Paul Curran, president of City, University of London, acknowledged that the name change is simply the first step in a wider movement to address racial inequality. It comes as global Black Lives Matter protests—sparked at the end of May by the unlawful killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer—have forced institutions to reckon with their place in the history of systemic racism. 


Photo courtesy: Cass Business School Facebook Page / a social media post reflecting on the legacy of Sir John Cass, from February 2020.

“The work we are doing to address racial inequality and to ensure City is an inclusive place to work and study will continue,” Paul said. “We have listened to the concerns of the City community about the naming of the Business School and we have also heard about their individual experiences of racism and inequality in today’s world.”

Professor Paolo Volpin, the interim dean of City’s Business School, echoed Paul’s commitment to look at the wider issues of racial inequality on campus. He pushed the importance for City to follow the name change with clear and measurable actions that demonstrate a commitment to racial equality and inclusion. 

“The School’s BAME community is leading a consultation to explore how we can increase inclusion across our School community in practical and measurable ways, to ensure we celebrate uniqueness and work harder to enhance our vibrant sense of belonging,” he said.    

On June 10th, City initiated a review of all historic sources of funding to determine if there are any other links with slavery. The review is chaired by Ms Hunada Nouss, a member of City’s Council.  The composition is drawn from a diverse group of City staff and external independent expertise. The review is expected to report in August.

Read more about how business schools are responding to racial inequality on campus:

Black MBAs: Improving African American Representation In Business Schools

Business Schools Respond To Black Lives Matter Protests

The lead image for this article was reused under this license. No changes were made.