The University held a reception to celebrate the naming of the Arthur Lewis Auditorium of Robertson Hall on Wednesday, April 18.
“Arthur established himself as one of the foremost public intellectuals of the 20th century,” said President Christopher Eisgruber ’83. “It’s fitting that his name will grace the Woodrow Wilson School’s main auditorium, a space that continues to welcome renowned public intellectuals to this day.”
Eisgruber spoke briefly to welcome Lewis’ family, faculty members, and other guests to the ceremony.
“Sir Arthur Lewis is an inspiring choice to grace the most prominent lecture hall in the Woodrow Wilson School,” said Eisgruber. “Arthur was a pathbreaking scholar.”
Lewis served on the University faculty for 20 years. In 1963, the same year in which he was knighted, he was appointed as a professor of economics and international affairs, becoming the first black “full professor” at the University. He was also the first West Indian-born Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies. In 1979, he won the Nobel Prize in Economics.
Eisgruber noted that Lewis’ academic career spanned multiple countries. He was named the James Madison Professor of Political Economy at the University, was the first West Indian-born Vice Chancellor of the University, and lectured at the University of Manchester, where he became the first person of African descent to hold a name chair at a British university.
The Trustee Committee on Woodrow Wilson’s Legacy at Princeton released a report in April 2016 in which it called upon the University administration to solicit ideas for naming buildings and other spaces not already named for historical figures or donors. According to Eisgruber, the committee’s work would “recognize individuals who would bring a more diverse presence to the campus.”
Eisgruber then asked the University’s committee on naming to recommend a name for the Robertson Hall atrium, and the committee recommended that the name of Harold Dodds be used for the atrium, while Lewis was to be honored in the auditorium.
“Through the naming of the Arthur Lewis auditorium, we not only recognize an intellectual giant who contributed greatly to the world, but also take an important step to illuminate this University’s history more fully, and to reflect the vibrant diversity of our society,” Eisgruber said. “The work of building a truly inclusive environment requires the support and active engagement of all members of this community.”
The reception was held at 5 p.m. in the Harold Dodds Atrium in Robertson Hall, while a 10-minute video tribute to Lewis and his legacy played simultaneously on loop in the auditorium.