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University to Start Building Black Cultural Center

Construction begins this summer on a Black Cultural Center at the University of Oregon, and school officials expect to open the $2.2 million building by September 2019.

The Black Student Task Force sought the center in 2015 when it made a list of 13 demands to improve the experience of Black students on the Eugene campus. Other demands, some of which remain unmet, included changing building names, hiring more Black teachers and enhancing Black studies.

“Black students need a place that will provide us an opportunity to gather, explore resource prospects for success, and reinforce our academic pursuits,” the task force said in a statement Wednesday. “The Black Cultural Center will indeed be this place for Black students.”

The UO has raised nearly $1.7 million for the two-story, 3,500-square-foot building and still needs $500,000, The Register-Guard reported.

Roughly $1 million of the money raised so far came from Dave Petrone, who earned an undergraduate degree and a master’s degree in business administration from the UO in the 1960s.

The cultural center will include room for small gatherings, classes, tutoring and meetings, said Kevin Marbury, the UO’s vice president of student life. Planning documents submitted to the city of Eugene last month show the center having a courtyard, a gallery and a lounge.

The Many Nations Longhouse is currently the only building on campus dedicated to an ethnic group, Marbury said. Native American students asked school leaders to build it in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

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