The University of Michigan will honor two former presidents by naming spaces on campus in their honor.
The Randall Laboratory addition will be renamed the Homer A. Neal Laboratory, and a gathering space in the newly renovated Ruthven Building will be named the Robben and Aldyth Fleming Reception Room.
The items were presented May 19 during a meeting of the Board of Regents.
Neal served as U-M’s vice president for research from 1993-96, and as interim president of the university from 1996-97.
He grew up in the era of segregation and earned his bachelor’s degree from Indiana University at a time when Black students were barred from entering the student union and were excluded from much of campus life. Despite these obstacles, he went on to become an accomplished experimental particle physicist, a U-M president, and a national leader in STEM education.
Neal died in May 2018.
With the relocation of the central administration offices to the Alexander G. Ruthven Building, the Fleming Administration Building is due to be demolished later this year. In accordance with university tradition, the names of Robben W. Fleming and his wife, Aldyth, are to be honored in an appropriate way.
The decision to add their names to space in the building housing the university administration was made in consultation with the family and approved by the university’s facility naming committee.
Signage will be installed at this prominent location adjacent to the Ruthven rotunda to honor Fleming’s many contributions to the university. He served as president from 1968-79 and returned as interim president in 1988.
He was known for his patience and negotiating skills, which he used to work with student activists protesting the Vietnam War and demanding increased enrollments of African Americans on campus.
He died in January 2010 in Ann Arbor at the age of 93.