Rockefeller University Moves To Redesign The “Dude Wall” After Rachel Maddow Remarks [Updated]

We have previously discussed how universities are removing portraits of their founders or their most accomplished figures because they are white males. The latest such example is Rockefeller University and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute where neurobiologist  Leslie Vosshall announced that a wall displaying portraits of the winners of the prestigious winners of the Nobel Prize and the Lasker Award must be changed. The problem is that they are the wrong race and gender so a committee is expected to order the design of the wall. The “problem” was identified by MSNBC host Rachel Maddow who gave an award for leading female scientists and derisively referred to the portraits by asked “What is up with the dude wall?” Now the “Dude Wall” will be changed in a move that raises real concerns over the growing trend toward removing historical portraits in colleges to achieve diversity.

As academics, we are committed to the pursuit of knowledge and celebrate those who made substantial contributions to the advancement of such knowledge. The fact that they are males is immaterial to their extraordinary accomplishments. However, they are viewed by some as first and foremost white men.

Vosshall explained “One hundred percent of them are men. It’s probably 30 headshots of 30 men. So it’s imposing. I think every institution needs to go out into the hallway and ask, ‘What kind of message are we sending?'”

Well, the most obvious message is the celebration of genius and the pursuit of knowledge. Women and men can both take inspiration from geniuses who preceded them at the university.

Yet, Vosshall says that Maddow’s remark prompted her and other to seek the removal of the offensive portraits” “It just sends the message, every day when you walk by it, that science consists of old white men.”

The university insists that other pictures of the winners will be displayed even though the portraits are removed. This will allow for additional winners and a more diverse array of pictures. The account of the university seems divergent from the account of Professor Vosshall on NPR, but either way the “Dude Wall” is history.

As if often the case, universities form committees to study such issues and they are often populated by those who take injury from such displays. Other academics are reluctant to confront such colleagues and be labeled as insensitive. The result always seems to be the same: removal of pictures based on gender and race of those pictures. Since these portraits reflect objective and major contributions to their fields, the act itself is the definition of sexism and racism. It is ignoring the accomplishments that led to the portraits because the academics are the wrong race and gender. This of course only works one way. What is another host offensively referred to a wall honoring female scientists as the “Chick Wall”? Would the response be to call a panel to look into removing the wall or lamenting the message an all gender display sends? Both references treat those honored as first and foremost defined by their gender and use terms meant to belittle who they are or what they accomplished.

Thankfully sexist and racist barriers have been removed from admission to our top academic programs. With many female and minority academicians in these fields, it is only a matter of time when additional portraits of Noble and Lasker winners will be raised with the images of non-males and non-whites. They will be honored in the same way and join other intellectuals not on the “Dude Wall” but the “Genius Wall.”

89 thoughts on “Rockefeller University Moves To Redesign The “Dude Wall” After Rachel Maddow Remarks [Updated]”

  1. I think Rockefeller would be much better off striking a compromise by raising money for several fainting couches adjoining the “dude wall”. The faculty lady scientists who get the vapors would then be able to recover before heading back to their labs to do lady science stuff.

  2. It won’t be long before the culture warriors call for the removal of Jews from picture galleries of the world despite the fact that the world of western science and medicine has has been greatly affected by this small group of people. Rachel Maddow and her ilk are just too stupid and biased to know this.

        1. Paternal-side grandfather. Her mother grew up in Newfoundland and the paternal-side grandmother’s family was Dutch. Intermarriage was odd when her grandparents married (around about 1938). Her great-grandparents spoke Yiddish at home. Bet there’s a story there.

          1. I think inter-marriage or inter-hanky-panky was a lot more common than you suggest. Based on physical features, many Jews of European background appear to have significant white DNA. For example, Jeffrey Epstein and Jared Kushner appear to have significant European blood.

  3. EVERYONE’S asking the wrong questions about this wall of geniuses. The absolute truth is that none of these discoveries were made Independent of the input and support of teams of people and/or on the backs of previous work. This is ALWAYS the case. Scientific ‘discovery’ is an ever evolving process. Due to the nature of certain social constructs, Alfred Nobel and associates decided to signify a Poster Child for promoting science. It is about marketing. Hiwever, the marketability of ‘Old White Dudes’ is waning as many women and folks of color find their voice is attached to their pocketbooks. As the market shifts, so do the ‘senesitivities’ of decision makers, whether they are academics or in Fortune 500 corporate high rises.
    The bottomline is green, Folks…. nearly ALWAYS GREEN. Watergate’s Deep Throat’s advice to Woodward and Bernstein to “Follow the Money” has never been more powerful and poignant ..
    No one is out to offend.anyone’s sensitivities, mock their ancestry or make political points… they are out to protect their bottomline. It could not be more simple or insidious.

    1. All that gobbledygook of adjectives to just accuse scientists of closeted racism and corporate greed? Stick to drinking soy, eating tofu, and whatever modern arts degree your working on…

    1. Rachel Maddow is a homo sapien sapien pf female gender with a severe cognitive dysfunction suffering a unexcogitable identity crisis which causes her to attempt to fabricate compensation for her defect which is perceptible and plausible only within her cerebral domain.

      1. Or more simply put, she’s a lesbian who grew-up in Northern California in a leftist home. Her father was an attorney for a public utility company. Her home town was overwhelmingly white. She obtained a Ph.D in Poly Sci., so now she’s an expert on everything she has no personal experience observing.

        1. KDUB, she sensed being different and the rejection for it. She seeks to compensate and takes a CONTRARY position on that basis, entirely without rationale or logic. She just hates. She opposes because she hates herself. Normal and successful people are the enemy. No redemption, other than sympathy and charity, exists for her condition. She must be rejected on principle.

          Maddow Maddow Quite Contrary!
          ___________________________________________________________________

          “The Dark Side of Mary Mary Quite Contrary”
          by M-Gillies

          Queen Mary or “Bloody Mary” as she was called was quite contrary as the nursery rhyme says and sent almost 300 people to their death during her five year reign.

          Mary Mary quite contrary,
          How does your garden grow?
          With silver bells and cockle shells
          And pretty maids all in a row.

          There’s a sadistic cruelty to the history of the world, from the times of medieval poverty, torture and disease to inquisitions, genocide and war; the past has been tarnished and plagued with atrocities that could only been considered fictitious. Even those playfully innocent nursery rhymes recited to children are shrouded with implicit messages, often depicting the follies of iconic moments in history or the people there within.

          Among the most notable of nursery rhymes is that of Mary Mary Quite Contrary. In this particular couplet composition, Mary Mary Quite Contrary alluded to the reputation of Mary of Tudor, who after her death was given the name of Bloody Mary for her part in catalyzing the deaths of hundreds of protestants.
          It was upon becoming Queen regent that Mary I, a practicing Roman Catholic attempted to establish a one ideological nation, setting in motion a reform to the laws of England in the early 1500s. With her implementation of Roman Catholicism, English Protestants were forced to convert to Catholicism or pay the consequences.

          During the Marian Persecutions, those who refused to reform were burned at the stake for heresy, a practice used during the Spanish Inquisition. While the English detested the Spanish, Mary’s reign became seen as an English Inquisition earning her a lasting hatred from English Protestants. However, unlike her father King Henry VIII, who, during his reign executed an access of ten thousand people, Mary I was instrumental in the deaths of less than 300 people.

          While the exact origins of the nursery rhyme are unclear, many historians studying nursery rhymes have uncovered the grisly comparisons to the imagery used in Mary Mary Quite Contrary. Prior to Mary’s accession, the eldest daughter of King Henry VIII married Prince Phillip of Spain. During a time when England’s favor toward the Spanish was ill-received, the marriage itself was unpopular amongst the people.

          To further complicate matters, Mary issued a proclamation stating that she would not compel any of her subjects to follow her religion, particularly since her father had allowed the Church of England to break away from the authority of the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church during the English Reformation and her half-brother, Edward VI had set a series of religious reforms that allowed England to act as institutionally Protestant country.

          However, during her first month as Queen, Mary, being quite contrary to her people, set the first statute of repeal and nullified all religious legislation passed during the boy-King Edward VI short reign, further allowing her to put into motion the Revival of the Heresy Act in 1554.

          In the verse, how does your garden grow, the nursery rhyme alludes to the garden being a cemetery and it growing with the bodies of heretics burned at the stake. Meanwhile, silver bells and cockle shells acted as colloquialisms for instruments of torture, where silver bells were thumbscrews used to crush the thumb between two hard surfaces and cockle shells were torture devices used on the victims genitals.

          Meanwhile, all the pretty maids in a row holds multiple variations, with some considering it to allude to the original prototype of the guillotine, both known as the maiden or when shortened maids. Another device used for torture was the Virgin of Nuremberg, otherwise known as the Iron Maiden. It was with this device that victims would be placed within an upright standing sarcophagus and sealed inside by two doors which had strategically-placed spikes that pierced the victim’s flesh, but not any vital organs.

          While nursery rhymes may seem innocent enough, with their harmonious melodies, the truth remains that they are rich with historical injustices, suffering and torture, rather than happy, feel-good poems we long ago were sung as children. So, the next time you catch yourself humming the rhythm of Mary Mary, Quite Contrary, remember that the nursery rhyme, like Ring-a Ring-a Rosie or London Bridge is Falling Down, is just another example of being reminded of the dark history of our ancestors.

  4. What is so wrong about displaying all the Nobel prize winners? There are women and people of color who have won this award. Where is their equal representtation? Just saying..

  5. Wjy not a Wall of Oboxious Boring Women huh Rachel. You would qualify. You are drunk with power lady. And I’m a woman.

  6. Stop lying. You can check the Statistical Abstract for the situation as it was in 1928. Fully 39% of graduate students enrolled outside select professional schools were female. Even the professional schools (divinity, medicine, law, veterinary medicine, pharmacy) had enrolled in them an odd minority of women.

  7. “What if there was a wall of ALL women”? Where, in a sorority house? Surely not a college campus.

  8. The university should just scrap all pictures of whites and replace them with a random collection of black faces. A lot of them should be available for little cost from the police mug shot collection.

  9. i’m reminded of the fact that Marie Curie was awarded two nobel prizes, 1903 and 1911. For those challenged in math, that’s over a hundred years ago.

    Speaking of men, I think they split them with her scientific collaborator– sorry ladies, that was her husband. One rarely hears his name but he earned it too: Pierre
    https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/physics/1903/pierre-curie/biographical/
    https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/physics/1903/marie-curie/biographical/

    next time you click an electric match to ignite your bbq coals, you can thank Pierre Curie

    1. Ah, yes, but did Pierre die of radiation sickness! Awards decision makers love a good tearjerker martyr story and despise men who take a backseat to their wives

    2. While the writer’s argument seems valid and rational, what is being overlooked is that it is offensive because it hasn’t been just white males who achieved tremendous accomplishments and discoveries. It just have been WHITE MALES, overall, who have been celebrated for them. For example, if a movie hadn’t been made about it, I would have never known that it was actually a African American, female scientist/mathematician, can’t recall which one was her specialty, that made NASA feasible and space travel a reality. If I hadn’t seen a facebook post about another African American female, I wouldn’t have known that she is the one who invented the first camera, security system either. My question then is, why aren’t we being taught about the accomplishments of non-whites and women in general? Why aren’t they being celebrated?

      1. For example, if a movie hadn’t been made about it, I would have never known that it was actually a African American, female scientist/mathematician, can’t recall which one was her specialty, that made NASA feasible and space travel a reality.

        Uh, no. There was a corps of mathematical technicians who did computations for the space program ‘ere the function was automated. At least one of them published in professional journals. None of them were engineers. These women were contributors to the space program, not crucial can’t-afford-to-lose-this- person contributors.

  10. I am not a fan of revisionist history. Moreover I am not a fan of Rachel Maddow. If you want your picture on a wall do something to earn it. For Maddow, whose accomplishment pales in comparison, to lead a revolt to take pictures down simply because they are white males demonstrates how petty she is. It is also racist and sexist. How odd for someone who supposedly fights racism and sexism to so clearly display those characteristics in herself. Leave the pictures up! And Rachel, take a look in the mirror…you will be shocked at what you see.

    1. I don’t believe she really asked for all those pictures to be taken down just because their were men.

    2. It is about the failure to acknowledge achievements of women; it is about the exclusion of women going back 4 hundred years!

  11. It might be better to do some research; find out who the women were who had the ideas, did the work and got no credit. Put their portraits up.

    1. How many Nobel prizes have been awarded to the male gender while the inventor, non-recognized female was subjected to being placed in the corner and basically told she should be thankful to have been allowed in the lab.

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