Name new building
Report recommendation: The naming of a major new University building or space to commemorate a significant figure, perhaps James McCune Smith, with appropriate signage and public-facing information, so that the University's campus and built environment can help enhance knowledge and understanding of the University's history and our present-day activities commemorating this history and pursuing policies of reparative justice.
James McCune Smith Learning Hub
The Learning and Teaching Hub has been formally named after American abolitionist and medic James McCune Smith. The £90.6 million building provides a state of the art learning and the teaching facility with the capacity for over 2,500 students. Opened in 2021, it was the first building to be delivered through our campus development programme.
James McCune Smith
James McCune Smith was truly a pioneer, not only becoming the first African American to gain a medical degree, but also one of the leading intellectuals of his time." James McCune Smith graduated from the University of Glasgow in 1837 and became the first African American to receive a medical degree.
James was born into slavery in 1813 and was freed by New York State's Emancipation Act on July 4 1827.
Recognised as being intellectually gifted, James attended the African Free School in Manhattan where his academic achievements led him to apply to several American universities.
After being denied entry to all due to his race, James applied for – and was accepted by – the University of Glasgow’s medical school. He went on to gain three qualifications from the University of Glasgow - a bachelor's degree in 1835, a master’s degree in 1836, and his medical doctorate in 1837.
Upon returning to New York, James set up a medical practice in lower Manhattan and grew to be recognised as a prominent figure in the New York black community and a leading intellectual.
Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Glasgow, said: “James McCune Smith was truly a pioneer, not only becoming the first African American to gain a medical degree, but also one of the leading intellectuals of his time.
“The University of Glasgow is proud of our association with his legacy and it is fitting that we honour it in the naming of this building. The new James McCune Smith Learning Hub will revolutionise how we deliver learning and teaching support and provide a world-class facility for generations of future students from around the world.