Statement on City, University of London’s response to Sir John Cass’s link to the slave trade

Today, City is announcing a review of its historic sources of funding to determine if there are any links with slavery and to make recommendations

City, University of London’s business school was renamed Cass Business School in 2002 following a donation from the Sir John Cass Foundation.  The mission of the Foundation is to promote the education of young people in London, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, through its grant programmes for individuals, educational institutions and organisations.

We know that many of our staff, students and alumni will be upset and concerned to learn of the historic links that Sir John Cass had to the slave trade.  There is no denying this aspect of the Foundation’s history.

As the university of the City of London we must fully acknowledge the uncomfortable historical reality of the linkage to slavery and investigate whether we have financially benefited from it.

We will consult with our key stakeholders and the Sir John Cass Foundation, which has been working on actions to determine and acknowledge the historic origins of the funds they distribute.  In February 2020, the Foundation commissioned an independent academic to ascertain the facts concerning Sir John’s links to the slave trade with a full and transparent account to be published once complete.  The findings of the account will form part of an assessment of our relationship with the Foundation.

The tragic death of George Floyd and subsequent events in the USA, the UK and around the world, has brought the historical and continuing issues of racial inequality and discrimination into sharp focus.  In our initial statement following Mr Floyd’s death, we reaffirmed our abhorrence of racism and discrimination, while recognising that we cannot be complacent about its existence within our own community and in society. City is strongly committed to equality, diversity and inclusion and does not tolerate any forms of harassment and discrimination.

We also made a commitment to re-examine the ways in which City can stand against racism and challenge structural and institutional inequalities.

As one of the steps towards this, we will be initiating a review of all our historic sources of funding to determine if there are any other links with slavery and to make recommendations.  The review will be chaired by a member of City’s Council and its composition will ensure it is fair, representative and involves independent external expertise.

Unlike other institutions who have announced a name change following recent news of Sir John Cass’s historical links to the slave trade, we have an ongoing contract with the Foundation which includes use of the Cass name and this will form part of our review.

The Foundation has also been working on actions to determine and acknowledge the historic origins of the funds they distribute and have also announced they are changing their name.  We will consult with the Foundation on their findings.

This story was updated on Tuesday 30th June.