Statement on Renaming the Honors Program

June 22, 2020

The honors program at George Fox will no longer carry the William Penn name. Penn’s name was originally chosen for the program because of his influence as a Quaker statesman in early America, and his charitable relationship with Native Americans. In recent months, it came to the attention of program leaders that William Penn was also a slave owner. After a series of conversations with administrators, faculty, and students, the decision was made to no longer use the name.

The core values of our program remain humility, charity, and truth-seeking. We remain committed to offering a "generous canon" in our program reading list, a reading list that includes a range of perspectives, some of which align with our Christian commitments and some of which do not. A text or figure does not have to represent our values in order to be read and discussed within the program; however, the name of our program should reflect our core values, including the most important value of love, which requires seeing every human being as made in the image of God. Slavery and racism are egregious sins against Christian love and violations of human dignity. As Christians we stand with those who cry out for racial justice in our world and are committed to promoting love and justice in our program.