Serra Mall will be officially redesignated Jane Stanford Way on Oct. 7, joining the recently renamed Sally Ride House dorm and Carolyn Lewis Attneave House in shedding the controversial epithet of California mission system founder Father Junipero Serra, who has been criticized for his mistreatment of Native Americans.
The decision to rename the prominent campus streetway after the University’s co-founder would change the University’s official address. Last year, University President Marc Tessier-Lavigne convened a committee that would make recommendations for renaming campus buildings and landmarks honoring Serra.
Jane Stanford’s name is not currently featured on any main campus landmarks, despite her role in co-founding the University with her husband Leland and helping the University through financial challenges following his 1893 death. New signs will be added to the official street signs to help explain the name change and Jane Stanford’s legacy.
“With this step, a prominent thoroughfare at the front door of our campus will now honor Jane Stanford, whose vision and strength played a central role in guiding and sustaining the university during its critical early years,” Tessier-Lavigne told Stanford News.
The renaming of Serra Mall comes on the heels of two years of controversy marked by student protests, critical op-eds and campus-wide debate among students and faculty alike.
Serra Mall — which cradles the Oval and extends from Campus Drive West to Campus Drive East — will be renamed, while the connecting Serra Street running from Campus Drive East to El Camino Real will not. This decision was made to “[avoid] erasing the University’s symbolic connection with Serra,” according to the renaming committee’s report. Additional street signs will be added along Serra Street to provide background on Serra and his connection to the University.
“In addition to the renamings, we are pursuing new ways of honoring the contributions of Native Americans at Stanford and the fact that the university’s lands are the homeland of the Muwekma Ohlone people,” said Mattiew Tiews, associate vice president for campus engagement.
The proposal for the street’s renaming was recently cleared by the U.S. Postal Service, Santa Clara County Communications and the Santa Clara County Surveyor’s Office, which set the official date of the name change. Stanford originally began filing paperwork with Santa Clara County this past April to initiate the change.
Stanford will host a campus event in fall quarter to celebrate the name change.
Contact Claire Wang at clwang32 ‘at’ stanford.edu.