Dr. Phillip Atiba Goff Announces Name Change to Phillip Atiba Solomon

August 31 2023

NEW HAVEN-- Noted social scientist and social entrepreneur Phillip Atiba Goff, Ph.D., has legally changed his name to Phillip Atiba Solomon. Solomon is the Chair and Carl I. Hovland Professor of African American Studies and Professor of Psychology at Yale University and the Co-founder and CEO of the Center for Policing Equity (CPE). 

This decision began as a commitment to gender equality, as 15-year-old Phil realized that asking a future wife to take his name would be “pretty sexist.” The issue resurfaced much later when he and his then girlfriend (who is not named here due to privacy concerns) agreed that her taking his name felt sexist–but not more so than him taking her father’s last name. After exploring hyphenation and name combination, they committed to create one family name, a rare path, with studies suggesting less than 3 percent of men change their surnames for family and even fewer couples create new ones. 

In choosing, “Solomon,” the couple attempted to honor their disparate heritages, invoking the Black freedom struggles of Solomon Northup and Morrison’s Song of Solomon as well as the Jewish cultural roots of the surname. The Biblical King Solomon, whose name could literally be translated to mean “Peace” was understood to achieve that peace through wisdom, a shared value of the couple. 

Despite the joy of arriving at a common name, this decision was bittersweet with Dr. Solomon losing his father, Dr. Edwin L. Goff, months before the birth of his first child. Having his father’s blessing—and giving the child Dr. Goff’s middle name–made that difficult transition bearable. Their hope is that the new Solomon family’s life together will forever reflect the wisdom, playfulness, and passion for justice that Phil’s father brought to all those around him.

More on Dr. Solomon’s work and the work he does at CPE can be found here.