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Letter to the editor: Renée and David Kaplan deserve a building named after them

By Stephen Yeazell and Seana Shiffrin

May 7, 2019 1:38 p.m.

Dear Editor,

The Daily Bruin ran a front-page story April 23 headlined “UCLA community questions fairness of naming buildings after donors.” The article quoted those who questioned the naming of buildings after individuals who may not share “our values.” The accompanying text and photo used the Renée and David Kaplan Hall on the campus’ central quadrangle as an example of this practice.

Putting aside the question of whether the practice of renaming buildings is a significant problem for universities, the article could not have chosen a less apt example than Renée and David Kaplan Hall.

As even cursory fact-checking would have revealed, the Kaplans are stellar examples of the best of UCLA.

Renée Kaplan earned both her undergraduate degree and her doctorate in psychology from UCLA. For many years she employed that training at the campus Counseling and Psychological Services center, helping thousands of UCLA students navigate the stresses of student life and young adulthood.

Renée’s husband, David, was, like her, a double Bruin, earning his bachelor’s and doctoral degrees in philosophy at UCLA. Shortly after earning that doctorate, David Kaplan was appointed as a faculty member, where he has taught for more than 40 years. His distinguished scholarship, making field-defining contributions to the philosophy of language and logic, has won him international acclaim.

David Kaplan has also won awards for his teaching, which includes undergraduate and graduate students. He has written software to help students learn logic – which he distributes for free throughout the world. In addition, he has served with great distinction in a number of Academic Senate positions, rendering counsel – and occasional sharp criticism – to generations of senior administrators.

Beyond this, David and Renée have offered both wisdom and warm hospitality to generations of UCLA colleagues, who, like us, have been welcomed to the UCLA faculty by these brilliant, witty, wise and generous people.

UCLA should be so lucky as to have more buildings named after people like David and Renée Kaplan.

Seana Shiffrin, UCLA philosophy department chair

Stephen Yeazell, UCLA School of Law professor emeritus

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