Commitment to respectful treatment of human remains on campus
July 23, 2021 10:38 AM

Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students:

The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign values and respects all people in our campus community, including those deceased individuals whose remains are in our care. In light of recent events regarding treatment of the remains of African American or enslaved individuals at universities and museums across the country, the University reaffirms its commitment to the respectful care of all human remains.

In particular, we recognize that the remains of African American and other individuals who have been marginalized - descendants of enslaved individuals, Native Ancestors, individuals brought here from outside of the United States and cadavers used in medical education - all deserve the same dignity, care, and respect.

The University is currently working to confirm the histories and identities of all human remains on campus. In 2020, we established a campus-wide office (the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act Office) to lead efforts to care for and return the remains of Native Ancestors and funerary and cultural items in campus collections. While we do not believe that the University houses the remains of any African American or enslaved individuals, we are auditing existing collections to determine appropriate next steps. We also are considering how best to approach the care and return of human remains originating from outside of the United States. We are committed to close collaboration with descendant communities as we undertake this work. 

If you have questions about the audit, or if you would like to disclose the presence of human remains on campus, please reach out to the NAGPRA Office ( for additional guidance. The team, which is housed in the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation, includes experts in the analysis of human skeletal remains and works closely with descendant communities, in partnership with the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. 

Thank you for your careful attention to this important issue.


Robert J. Jones

This mailing approved by:
Office of the Chancellor

sent to:
Academic Professionals, Civil Service, Faculty, Extra Help, Graduate Students, Undergraduate Students, Incoming Graduate Students & Incoming Undergraduate Students
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