NEW HAVEN, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP) – After years of debate, Yale University is changing the name of its residential college named after an alumnus who ardently supported slavery.

John C. Calhoun was an important statesman in the early 19th century.

“He was also though one of the leading spokesmen for a theory of white supremacy and for the idea that slavery was a positive good,” Yale law professor John Witt told WCBS 880’s Mike Smeltz. 

Witt was chair of the committee that established the school’s guidelines for renaming.

He said the name change is not about taking an eraser to the school’s history. But said at Yale, students partly form their social identities and friend circles around being in a certain residential college.

“When we ask students to organize intramural teams around a name and to wear a name on their T-shirts to cheer it, I think it becomes a different kind of thing,” Witt said.

Calhoun College will now be renamed after Grace Murray Hopper, a Navy rear admiral who broke open the field of computer science in the 1950s.