NEW HAVEN, Connecticut – Ivy League universities are moving away from the title of "master" for leaders of residential colleges, a label with roots stretching back to the universities of medieval Europe and one that many now see as evoking slavery.
Harvard and Princeton have eliminated the title, and Yale is considering whether to change it.
A push for change has gained momentum as U.S. colleges move to address student concerns about inclusiveness and the racial climate on campuses.
Undergraduates at the three Ivy League schools are assigned to a number of colleges, where the masters, who are drawn from the university faculty, oversee social and academic programs and serve as advisers.
Princeton administrators announced last month that the masters at its six colleges had decided to drop a title they described as anachronistic and historically vexed.
At Yale, the current debate picked up with an email from Stephen Davis, a professor who has been known as head of Pierson College since rejecting the title of master. In August, according to the Yale Daily News, he wrote to his college, "I think there should be no context in our society or in our university in which an African-American student, professor or staff member — or any person, for that matter — should be asked to call anyone 'master.'"
Yale President Peter Salovey has said he expects the university to make a decision on the issue before the summer.
Harvard announced last week that it plans to change the term "house master" for a new title to be determined later.
"The house masters feel confident that a change in title at this point in time makes sense on very many levels," Harvard Dean Rakesh Khurana wrote to students.