The College of New Jersey’s Board of Trustees adopted this afternoon a recommendation by TCNJ President R. Barbara Gitenstein to rename Paul Loser Hall. Effective immediately, the building that houses the college’s Office of Admissions and School of Nursing, Health, and Exercise Science shall be known as Trenton Hall.
“The name Trenton Hall embraces the college’s history, under its six different names, as an institution born in the city of Trenton,” said Gitenstein. “We have a longstanding history with the city and this name will remind us and everyone who visits campus that TCNJ’s roots run through our state capital.”
The recommendation was first put forth by the Advisory Commission on Social Justice: Race and Educational Attainment, which Gitenstein formed in February. It had been charged with developing an institutional response to revelations about Dr. Loser’s history.
“Archival research conducted by TCNJ students revealed that Dr. Loser, as superintendent of Trenton schools from 1932-1955, supported and maintained a segregated school system that shaped the prospects for opportunity for generations of Trentonians,” wrote the commission members in their recommendation to the president.
Gitenstein concurred with the commission’s recommendation. In advancing it to the board for consideration, she noted that Dr. Loser and the college were on opposite sides of the issue at the time. Then college president Roscoe West was a member of the Trenton Committee on Unity and a prominent advocate for school desegregation in the state capital.
Gitenstein acknowledged that while she is confident that the action is the correct one for the institution, her respect for the Loser family—Paul’s sons Pete and Tom and Tom’s wife Carol—made it especially difficult.
“Pete Loser was instrumental in the creation of the TCNJ Foundation,” noted Gitenstein. “And the late Tom Loser and his wife Carol Kuser Loser exemplify extraordinary generosity of spirit. The family has been a strong supporter of the college’s quest for excellence.”
The $1 million gift from Tom and Carol Loser to TCNJ in 1987 was intended to help the college realize its aspirations to support top faculty and students. It was not contingent upon or tied to the naming of the building.
The commission will continue to meet in anticipation of issuing a final set of recommendations to the president in June. It is working to identify ways in which the institution can have a positive impact on race relations and social justice moving forward.