Yale to Rename Calhoun College After Pioneering Computer Scientist Grace Hopper

Image via AP.
Image via AP.

Yale University announced on Saturday that it would finally relent to pressure to rename Calhoun College—named for former vice president and white supremacist John C. Calhoun—to something a little more befitting of the year, if not the times themselves.


The school’s trustees settled on Grace Murray Hopper, a computer scientist and Navy rear admiral who earned both her master’s degree and doctorate from the university. Yale President Peter Salovey told reporters that Hopper was an appropriate choice given her prescience for the role technology would play in every day life.

“At a time when people all thought that only specialists would touch a computer, she anticipated where we are today,” he said.

After receiving her master’s in mathematics in 1930 and a doctorate in mathematical physics in 1934, Hopper went on to help develop the first computer language “compiler,” the New Haven Register reports. She also served in the U.S. Naval Reserve for 20 years, and was called into active duty at age 60, retiring as a rear admiral at the age of 79. She died in 1992, and in 2016 was posthumously awarded the National Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama. Here’s an awesome photo of her being saluted by crew members aboard the USS Constitution as she arrives for her retirement ceremony in 1986:

Image via AP.
Image via AP.

Kica Matos, a New Haven resident and the director of immigrant rights and racial justice for the Center for Community Change, told the paper that the name change is a “good step in the right direction,” especially in light of recent, ahem, national events.

“Just last week, (U.S. Sen.) Elizabeth Warren, (D-Mass.), was silenced by fellow senators for speaking out against a man who has a history of bigotry and racism,” she said. “To have the university step up and celebrate women is very courageous and very timely.”


The renaming came as a complete reversal from an announcement made by the university last spring, when it declared that it would not acquiesce to remove Calhoun’s name. Salovey noted that while he was still “concerned about erasing history,” he said that “these are exceptional circumstances.”

“I made this decision because I think it is the right thing to do on principle,” he told reporters during the news conference.


This will be the second residential college at Yale to be renamed after a woman.

Calhoun, for his part, was a racist shit satchel whom we need not discuss further.



Grace Hopper was a truly remarkable individual, and this is a long overdue step towards giving her the sort of recognition she truly deserves. She was a gifted pioneer in computer science, being instrumental to the creation of COBOL, one of the very first high level programming languages. Without her, we basically would not have modern computers as we know them.

In addition to that, she was one of the first women to achieve the rank of Admiral in the United States Navy. At the time of her retirement, she was the oldest commissioned officer in the entire Navy. Despite retiring from military service at 79, she continued to work in both the private sector and education.

Honoring Hopper is an unusually classy move by Yale. Kudos.