Update: The university announced the new committee's membership on Jan. 19. Paul Brest, professor emeritus and former dean of Stanford Law School, will chair the group.
A Stanford University committee convened to examine the issue of renaming campus facilities, spurred by concerns over buildings and streets named after California mission founder Junipero Serra, has been unable to reach agreement on its work.
President Marc Tessier-Lavigne announced Thursday that the group, which his predecessor convened in 2016, has said it is unable to meet an initial goal of issuing recommendations by the end of this quarter. He plans to create two new committees to finish the process.
The advisory committee was originally asked to recommend principles to guide future decisions about renaming and also if any existing names should be replaced given those principles. To expedite the process, Tessier-Lavigne said he suggested in March that the group focus on forming principles first, then apply them to the specific case of Serra.
Serra's mixed legacy as the founder of the mission network who also led violent conversion of many Native Americans to Christianity raised concerns among students in recent years.
Frustrated by stalled progress on the issue, a group of students participated in a "Walk to Rename," protest on Wednesday, marching from Serra House down Serra Mall to deliver letters to administrators in the Main Quad, the Stanford Daily reported.
In a blog post, Tessier-Lavigne said he met with the students that evening.
"The issues are complex, and the going has not been easy," Tessier-Lavigne wrote. "The committee reported to me on Monday that it has been unable to reach agreement about the principles, despite committed efforts by the members and extensive further discussion."
He plans to appoint faculty and students to two new groups in December. The first group will tackle the principles, and the second will use them to make a recommendation on Serra. The "firm aim" is to complete the process by the end of the school year.
Acknowledging that the Serra question "has deep personal and historical resonance for many members of our community," articulating specific principles as a rationale for this and future naming cases is critical, Tessier-Lavigne wrote.
He said he will be scheduling additional office hours in November and December for people to provide input on the process directly to him.
The Stanford renaming effort follows many at other college campuses and schools across the country, including locally at the Palo Alto school district. The school board voted in March to rename David Starr Jordan and Terman middle schools given their namesakes' promotion of eugenics, a 20th century movement that believed in the superiority of particular races over others.
The committee of students, parents and staff asked to examine the issue in Palo Alto Unified also struggled to find common ground on the issue, but ultimately made a majority recommendation to rename the schools.
Both men have deep roots at Stanford. Jordan Hall is named after Stanford's first president. Lewis Terman was a Stanford psychologist who created a prominent IQ test.