Calhoun, a senator from SC who was separately secretary of state, secretary of war and vice-president under John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson, was a champion of "states' rights" in the years before the civil war.
The US university said on Saturday it would rename Calhoun College after Grace Hopper College, a female Yale alumnus who invented a pioneering computer programming language and became a Navy rear admiral.
After 18 months of campus controversy, Yale University trustees have voted to remove John C. Calhoun, an ardent proponent of slavery, as the name of a residence hall and replace it instead with Grace Murray Hopper, a Yale graduate and trailblazing computer scientist.
Last April, Salovey announced the school would keep the name of Calhoun College as a commitment to "confronting, not erasing, history". The point was simple, by not changing the name of the college, Yale University was tacitly extending its support to racial injustice.
"The minute that the announcement came out, people stuck their heads out of the window and yelled 'Wahoo!'" Julia Adams, a sociology professor who is head of the just-renamed Grace Murray Hopper College, said on Saturday.
"People of good will and intelligence have many different perspectives on this question", Salovey said. Calhoun College, which opened in 1933, was decorated with depictions of slaves carrying bales of cotton, and derisively referred to as the "Calhoun Plantation". She retired as a Navy rear admiral at age 79, and died in 1992 at age 85.
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"This decision, especially in these fraught times, is a monumental step forward", said Christopher Lapininga, a 2013 alumnus and member of the New Yale Colleges group. But those discussions turned to urgent pleas in 2015 after a white man who revered the Confederacy shot and killed nine black worshipers at a church in Charleston, S.C. That led SC lawmakers to take down the Confederate flag that had long flown at the state capitol, and efforts at Yale and elsewhere to stop honoring the name of Calhoun.
Last April, the school had chose to retain Calhoun's name despite many protests; however, after a special task force "charged with applying broad renaming principles" recommended changing the College's moniker, the Yale Corporation - which has the ultimate say on such matters - agreed.
Yale is also finishing construction of two new residential colleges to accommodate an increased student body that will produce more tuition revenue. The name Calhoun is engraved throughout the college, including above the front gate, and the upper tier of Harkness Tower features a sculpture of Calhoun. He also held positions of secretary of state, secretary of war and a senator.
Then, in April, Yale University had chose to keep the name for Calhoun College. Criminal charges have since been dropped and Yale has rehired Menafee, who had described the image as offensive.
Hopper received a master's degree in mathematics and a Ph.D.in mathematics and mathematical physics from Yale.