Ball State University Board of Trustees votes to remove name of Papa John's founder from campus

MUNCIE, Ind. -- Ball State University has reversed course and will now remove the name of Papa John’s founder from campus.

The university board of trustees approved the motion to remove the name of John H. Schnatter from the school’s Institute for Entrepreneurship and Free Enterprise during a special meeting on Thursday. The school will also return funding to Schnatter’s Family Foundation.

"The Board of Trustees strongly condemns racism, both implicit and explicit. Our condemnation extends to include John Schnatter's comments that are the subject of controversy and have no place in our society," the board said in its statement released Thursday afternoon. 

The Institute will now be known as the Ball State University Institute for Entrepreneurship and Free Enterprise.

READ | Ball State: 'Premature' to comment on 'Pape John's' alum John Schnatter after N-word fallout

The board announced earlier this month that they had decided to keep the name based on its "current understanding of what transpired" during a conference call last May in which Schnatter admitted to saying the N-word. 

Schnatter graduated from Ball State in 1983 and founded Papa John's in 1984. The Institute for Entrepreneurship and Free Enterprise was later named after Schnatter.

Schnatter resigned as chairman of the board of Papa John's on July 12. He then filed suit against the company he founded on July 27 to get access to books and records. Schnatter has said leaving Papa John's was a mistake, and he's reportedly trying to get shareholder support to remain on the company's board.

Read the Ball State Board of Trustees' full statement below.

“The Board of Trustees strongly condemns racism, both implicit and explicit. Our condemnation extends to include John Schnatter’s comments that are the subject of controversy and have no place in our society.

The Board had hoped that the situation would provide a learning opportunity regarding race relations and critical thinking. We respect and appreciate that John desired to engage with our students and campus community and otherwise continue to be supportive of Ball State. From the Board’s perspective, our University was presented with a chance to have a healthy and open conversation that could lead to better understanding of issues facing our society.

Notwithstanding the Board’s strong belief in the power of conversation, President Mearns has advised us that such discussions with John and other good faith gestures would not be well received or effective, as long as his name remains on the Institute for Entrepreneurship and Free Enterprise.

Unfortunately, the response from some on campus and the current political climate in our nation makes the meaningful progress we desire very challenging. At the same time, the Board does not wish to risk that others will have a false impression that Ball State is not fully committed to a welcoming and inclusive campus for all.

Accordingly, the Board voted today to remove John Schnatter’s name from the Institute.

While the office suite signage in one of our buildings has changed, the troubling issues facing our nation still exist. The Board encourages the Ball State community to engage in constructive dialogue as we collectively work towards solutions.”

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