A Virginia Tech dorm named for a now-deceased
professor who might have had Ku Klux Klan ties won’t be renamed, Tech
President Paul Torgersen said.
Claudius Lee, an engineering professor who died in 1962, called
himself the “Father of Terror” in an 1896 school yearbook in which a
page was devoted to the KKK. Another group to which Lee belonged, the
Pittsylvania Club, depicted a Black man being lynched from a tree on
its yearbook page.
“I do not believe that institutions can reconcile regrettable
aspects of our histories by trying to change the record left to us by
the past,” Torgersen told Tech’s Board of Visitors last month.
Lee, then a student, was editor of the 1896 yearbook. He went on to
teach electrical engineering at Tech for fifty years. A dormitory was
named for him in 1968.
A group of Tech history students uncovered the KKK yearbook page
last fall as part of class research, leading some Black students to
demand that the dorm be renamed.
But Torgersen, who announced in November that Tech would hire a
vice president for multicultural affairs in response to the
controversy, said two historians — one an expert on the Virginia Klan
— concluded the yearbook page probably did not represent real Klan
activity and may have been a prank.
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