City University reveals new business school name after ditching Cass over slavery links

London’s City University is to rename its business school after the 18th-century nonconformist theologian and mathematician Thomas Bayes, after ditching the name of Sir John Cass, a merchant who made much of his fortune from the slave trade.

The university stripped the Cass name from its campus last summer after students raised concerns in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests sparked by the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.

City’s president, Prof Sir Paul Curran, said: “The renaming of the business school marks the start of a new chapter in City’s history, but certainly not the end of our work to address racial inequality.”

The university, which is based in Islington, said it would also fund a scholarship programme for black UK-domiciled undergraduate students to “improve under-representation within the school”. Only 2% of the business school’s undergraduates were black between 2015 and 2019.

The new programme, which will run for 10 years from 2022/23, will offer 10 scholarships a year covering all tuition fees and an annual £6,000 stipend. City will also fund five PhD scholarships for black British students each year.

The school will be formally renamed the Bayes Business School on 6 September. Until then it will be referred to as the Business School (formerly Cass).

City University had renamed its business school in honour of Cass in 2002 after a £5m donation from the Sir John Cass’s Foundation. The foundation, which was established in 1748 to support disadvantaged young people in London, has been renamed the Portal Trust.

Bayes, who died in 1761, was best known for his foundational work on conditional probability. His grave is in Bunhill Fields, opposite the business school.

The Bayes theorem suggests that we get closer to the truth by constantly updating our beliefs in proportion to the weight of new evidence. “It is this idea, not only the person, that is the motivation behind adopting this name,” the university said in a statement.

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