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Yale to Rename Calhoun College in Honor of Navy Admiral

Admiral Grace Hopper is honored by Navy Secretary John Lehman during her Aug. 14, 1986 retirement ceremony on board the USS Constitution in Boston. (AP Photo/Peter Southwick)
Admiral Grace Hopper is honored by Navy Secretary John Lehman during her Aug. 14, 1986 retirement ceremony on board the USS Constitution in Boston. (AP Photo/Peter Southwick)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- After years of debate, Yale University announced Saturday it will change the name of a residential college that honors a 19th-century alumnus and former U.S. vice president who was an ardent supporter of slavery.

Yale trustees said the Ivy League university is renaming Calhoun College after trailblazing computer scientist Grace Murray Hopper, a mathematician who earned Yale degrees in the 1930s, invented a pioneering computer programming language and became a Navy rear admiral.

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University officials said Saturday the school will not remove symbols of Calhoun on campus, such as engravings and a statue atop the landmark Harkness Tower. It also won't discourage alumni if they want to continue associating with the Calhoun name instead of Grace Hopper College.

But Salovey said he hopes the university community will "embrace Grace Hopper and get to know her better." She graduated from Yale in 1930 and earned a doctorate in mathematics and mathematical physics from there in 1934, just a year after Calhoun College was established.

After teaching math at Vassar College in New York for nearly a decade, she enlisted in the Navy and "used her mathematical knowledge to fight fascism during World War II," the university said.

A programming language her team invented in the 1950s was a predecessor to the widely-used COBOL. She retired as a Navy rear admiral at age 79, and died in 1992 at age 85. She was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom last year.

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