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Cass Business School to change name due to its slavery links

Cass Business School to change name due to its slavery links

London’s City University has announced that its Business School will no longer be known as Cass Business School, due to the historic links of Sir John Cass to the slave trade.

The unanimous decision was taken by City’s Council on 3 July, following a broad consultation and on the basis that continued use of the Cass name was incompatible with City’s values of diversity and inclusion.

The Business School was renamed the Sir John Cass Business School eighteen years ago, following a donation from the Sir John Cass Foundation. The Foundation was established in 1748 and named after Sir John Cass, whose wealth was used posthumously to create the educational charity. It has already announced that it will be changing its name, and removing the statue of Sir John from the facade of its offices on Jewry Street.

For now, the School will be referred to as City’s Business School while consultations about a new name are set in motion.

Making the announcement, Julia Palca, Chair of City’s Council, said:

“Any continued use of Sir John Cass’ name would be seen as condoning someone whose wealth in part derived from the exploitation of slavery. This is incompatible with our values of diversity and inclusivity. We have therefore taken the decision to remove the name.”

Professor Paolo Volpin, Interim Dean, City’s Business School also commented:

“This is the right decision but it is just the first step. It is important that we follow it up with clear and measurable actions that demonstrate our commitment to racial equality and inclusion. The School’s BAME community is leading a consultation to explore how we can increase inclusion across our School community in practical and measurable ways to ensure we celebrate uniqueness and work harder to enhance our vibrant sense of belonging.”

City has initiated a review of all historic sources of funding to determine if there are any other links with slavery; and to make recommendations, chaired by Hunada Nouss, a member of City’s Council. The review is expected to report in August.

London Metropolitan University’s the Sir John Cass Faculty of Art, Architecture and Design has also removed the name from its title. It will now change it in consultation with students, staff, governors and alumni, and until a decision is reached, it will be known simply as The School of Art, Architecture and Design.

Sir John Cass Red Coat School in Stepney Way also announced in June that it would be changing its name. 

Melanie May is a journalist and copywriter specialising in writing both for and about the charity and marketing services sectors since 2001. She can be reached via

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