Bloomington Mayor convenes task force to rename Jordan Avenue, invites street name proposals

BLOOMINGTON – In coordination with Indiana University, the City of Bloomington has begun the process of renaming Jordan Avenue and invites residents to propose alternative street names using this online form

Mayor John Hamilton has convened a task force to review proposals and select new name options for the road south of 17th Street and other options for the extension north of 17th. 

The Renaming Task Force comprises the following city residents and IU faculty and administrators:

  • Cedric Harris, Director of Bias Response, Division of Student Affairs, IU 
  • Tim Mayer, former City Council member and current South Jordan Avenue resident
  • Elizabeth Mitchell, journalist, filmmaker, and historian of Bloomington’s African-American community, 42-year city resident, and community volunteer (co-chair)
  • Tom Morrison, Vice President, Capital Planning and Facilities, IU 
  • Glenda Murray, Monroe County Historian, community volunteer, and retired IU staff
  • Alex Tanford, Professor Emeritus of Law, Maurer School of Law, IU (co-chair)
  • James Wimbush, Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs, IU

The IU Board of Trustees in October 2020 voted to remove the name of IU’s seventh president from IU’s Jordan Hall, Jordan Avenue Parking Garage, and Jordan River.  The vote followed recommendations by President Michael McRobbie, Provost Lauren Robel, the IU Naming Committee and a dedicated faculty committee whose review concluded that former President Jordan held views that conflicted fundamentally with the university’s values. 

The university has the authority to rename the Jordan Avenue Extension north of 17th Street, and the City has the authority to rename the segment south of 17th. The two entities are coordinating through the City’s task force to rename both segments.

Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton

“Together with IU, the City is committed to promoting inclusion and equity in our community, and can not continue to honor a historical figure who so clearly opposed those values,” said Mayor Hamilton.  “We recognize that this change may be a temporary inconvenience, but the action is necessary to stand clearly together in denouncing racial discrimination and its legacies, and ensuring everyone feels welcome on our streets.”

The Bloomington Municipal Code (20.06.020(c)(1)(R)) provides for the City to rename streets through the Bloomington Plan Commission, which will hear names proposed by the renaming committee at a public hearing.  Notice of the proposed names will be sent at least 30 days before the hearing to all affected property owners and other residents.  For the change to be adopted, the Plan Commission will adopt a resolution establishing the new names, which will go into effect no sooner than 90 days after the vote.   

Upon approval of new names, the City will work to mitigate the impacts of the transition on property owners and others by coordinating with public entities, including the U.S. Postal Service, emergency service providers, and others.   

IU president from 1885 to 1891 and professor of zoology from 1875 to 1885, David Starr Jordan was at the forefront of the American eugenics movement and used its theories to promote forced sterilization legislation, enacted in more than 30 states including Indiana during the twentieth century.  American eugenic thought has also been acknowledged as an influence on the racial theories that led to the Holocaust.